With my take-over of the Wellness Almanac coming to a close, I have been reflecting on what I hoped to share through this exploration of nature connection.
This led me to consider why I had committed to sharing the practice of Forest Therapy in the first place.
It certainly wasn’t an easy decision and it wasn’t an obvious career move either. Although I knew I wanted to work with the environment, coming from a background of data-driven rationalism, choosing a career in conservation or ecosystem restoration would have been viewed as much more respectable. In scientific circles, adopting a perspective that imbues nature with animacy is a cardinal sin that is considered, at best, naïve anthropomorphism.
And yet it was clear to me that our familiar responses to the crises we are facing were not yielding the changes we needed to see. That the gravity of what we are collectively experiencing warranted a different way of interacting with our world, one less utilitarian and extractive.
Earlier this week, I was reading an article by Bayo Akomolafe, CEO of the Emergence Network and a line jumped out at me. He wrote, ‘how we respond to the crisis, is part of the crisis’.
The practices of Forest Therapy initiate us into new ways of being that radically shift how we respond to the world. It is a practice that invites us to slow down and notice the world differently. To be free of expectations and agendas.
These are ways of being that have been eroded over time through an emphasis on output and productivity. Through worldviews that link our self-worth to what we can produce, what we can conquer.
As a society, we have internalized these beliefs to the degree that we now instinctively respond to a crisis situation with the question ‘what can we do?’, as if taking action is the only course of action. What if the question became, ‘how can I be?’
I am aware that suggesting we reframe our proactive sensibilities can feel intensely uncomfortable given the urgent catastrophes that plague our world. I continue to struggle with a desire to do more to address the overwhelming loss in biodiversity and habitats across the planet.
And yet paradoxically, I believe we need to slow down in the face of such urgency. To shift into new patterns of noticing and connecting with the world around us. That how we are responding to the crisis, is part of the crisis.
Perhaps it is best expressed by Lao Tzu, “Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished.”
So in closing, what I hope to have shared throughout this week, is the idea that Nature is our refuge from the heaviness and loneliness of our modern lives. It is a place where we can remember what it truly is to be alive, to connect to our place on this Earth.
Invitation Of The Day
The final invitation of the week is to, as poet Wendell Berry puts it, rest in the grace of the world. You do not need a forest or a pristine natural setting. Just find a quiet place where you can connect with the natural world in whatever way speaks to you.
The Peace of Wild Things by Wendell Berry: