As we turn the corner in a new decade, I think about the evolution of our species. What have we changed? Where are we going? What changes will come? And how can we save ourselves, like so many ask today? How can we “be the change“?
“We only reflect the world. All tendencies present in the outside world can be found in the world of our body. If we could change, the trends in the world would also change. When a person changes his own being, the attitude of the world towards him also changes. This is the highest divine secret. It is a wonderful thing and the source of our happiness. We don’t have to wait until we see what others are doing. “ – Mahatma Gandhi
I read this morning that two firefighters were killed in the massive bush fires in Australia. So far this year there are 10 people in a fire season only half overAccording to Victoria Rescue Minister Lisa Neville. So far over 1,000 houses have burned, but it’s no longer a shock. We are used to hearing this news. However, I was surprised to read that the Prime Minister he apologized for the holiday at that time. His compassion is new; In our current human trauma and overwhelming feelings of helplessness, many of us are discouraged, stunned by the constant reports of tragedy. We are used to looking away. My children know that in every season, people around the world die from heat, floods, storms, forest fires and other climate-related disasters. Sometimes we see the smoke on the news; sometimes we struggle to keep it out of our own lungs. It is the end of the decade, the end of my children’s childhood and the beginning of a new era for humanity. And what can we do to save ourselves?
“With the impoverishment of the country, the scope of their vision changes. I realized that they could not even imagine how beneficial relationships between their species and others could be. How can we begin to move towards ecological and cultural sustainability? if we can’t. ” Imagine what the path feels like? If we can’t imagine the generosity of geese?
I would like to suggest that we save ourselves through this connection.
The other day I drove past the recreation center in Burnaby with my children, where I first awakened my desire to connect children with nature. About two decades ago, before I had my own children, I drove my eight- to ten-year-old art group to the small cultivation of conifers and rhododendrons next to the parking lot in this recreation center. It was the only forest-like area between the shopping center, the sky train and the office buildings. Next to the smooth concrete path, I and this group of children dug our fingers in grass and needles and found worms that came skyward after the recent rains. We saved you from a puddle. We collected cones and twigs, and the children discovered that cones actually contained seeds from the trees from which they fell. Although I bravely tried to link our indoor art adventures to this one excursion, I knew that the greatest learning by far was the short fifteen minutes we had spent sticking our fingers into the ground , This was the moment of connection – discovering a feeling of home and belonging in nature. I have spent the past two decades luring people into the wilderness, welcoming them to those rooms where nature still shows their fairytale and strange habits, and making them feel at home. Because that is our home.
Forest schools have become increasingly popular in the past ten years. likewise explorative and self-directed learning. I think these things are hopeful for our civilization. When we reintegrate into nature in a curious and exploratory way, we as a species are adjusted to our own existence and can better understand our own nature. As we discover the amazing interactions between other species in the wild, we also discover our own interactions with them. We discover our mutual needs and gifts. We discover our equality.
But how does this help us to survive the climate emergency? In a very practical way, the exploratory game of wildlife helps people of all ages to become more resilient and resourceful. Both qualities had to survive at all times, but especially in the unpredictable time we are in now. A few years ago, during the worst smoking season we had on Canada’s west coast, I bought an air purifier that barely managed to keep the smoke out of a room in my house. But I took my Wild Art groups into the nearby forest to discover the clear, green filtered air and the relatively smoke-free play areas. During the hot smoking season we found a break under the protection of cedars and hemlocks, leaned our bodies against the cool trunks and stuck our fingers in the mud left over from the flooding last winter. The children learned ingenuity when they wrote, developed and performed a play on consumerism (their own idea, but not surprising given the climate of fear in the forest fire season). They connected to our local recycling center and a second-hand prop shop and made other props and a set of items found in the forest.
In addition to resilience and ingenuity, the deeply felt connection that natural research develops between humans and between humans and other species helps us to see the big picture. We discover the trees’ need for moss, hold water like a sponge, and we discover our own need for the wet coolness that the moss provides and the protection of the leaves of the trees. Symbiotic relationships are everywhere, and the more we discover, the greater our perception. The bigger our picture gets. Climate change is one very big picture. If we want to solve it, we have to understand the networking of all things. We need to know that we are important.
And especially in this world where happiness is sold through in-game advertising and the price tags of our branded goods, we can discover happiness in nature. The pursuit of happiness remains an ever-present goal of the human mind, and we will not save our home and future by denying ourselves joy. Our salvation will not come from hunger and asceticism. It will come from plenty. We just have to see fullness – happiness – in the things we need to save, and then we will be more and more willing to save them. Saving the trees is much easier if the trees are our children’s toys. when we know their fragrance and the feeling of their cool skin with us in summer; when we have learned how your canopy protects us from heat and smoke. Saving frogs, beetles, worms and snails is much more appealing if we don’t imagine a distant ecosystem that we have never been to, but rather notice the appearance of worms after rain in our own neighborhood puddles.
The wilderness is not far away. Wilderness happens in the city puddle under our feet or, as we once determined with the help of our trustworthy microscope, on the surface of an old moldy piece of cat food! Wilderness is in the Australian bush and burns with it Koalas getting closer to extinction, And it’s also in the weeds on the edge of a forgotten urban alley. It is in the heart of the little girl who plays there and digs her fingers in plastic covers and grasshoppers to find the treasure she buried there last winter: a pine cone full of seedlings, which she carefully pulls out and replants.
Over the past decade, we as a species have gotten used to seeing our home burn from across the street, then turning our backs and looking at our cellphones to find a quick emotional solution. We have got used to blind ourselves to our own feelings of despair and helplessness. to soothe our broken hearts with capitalist promises and lies. Now it’s time to go back there and put out the flames. I think of Robin Wall Kimmerer’s despair about her students’ lack of connection with the wild, and if we allow our children to enjoy discovering little things, the next generation will be the first to return to nature. When they get to university, the scope of their vision increases because they have seen and known the wilderness under their feet. They will integrate the great technical systems of their time into the great system of wilderness, and those of us who follow them will eventually be the change we already know ourselves.
Happy new decade. May we connect with each other and with our wilderness.
* Image: Copyright Emily van Lidth de Jeude
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