Connecting the dots to the stars in a wider universe
As a young child we always seemed to live in less built-up areas, off the beaten track as such, and I was given incredible freedom to roam and explore, often alone, unsupervised, something unheard of for many youngsters growing up in the city today. During my years in Hout Bay, having a horse meant I could cover great distances on my own and each day I would venture out, following trails across the mountain or tethering my horse to a tree while I waded waist-deep in the Disa River, searching for nests or interesting plants growing along the water’s edge. The imagination knew no bounds then…at the time I was influenced by the wildlife photographer Dieter Plage, and each day’s adventures gave me a chance to touch on the magic of his life, out in nature, with the fresh breeze against my skin, the winter clouds drifting across the mountains, and the joy of immersing in nature and encountering the myriad lives and magical moments that unfolded before me.
I learned through these encounters that I was my happiest and most fulfilled when I was experiencing nature first-hand, and these solitary wanderings, carefree and in touch with something far greater than the immediacy of my young and sometimes troubled life, created the foundation and the inspiration for the adult I have become.
We can live upon this earth either as tourists seeking gratification, comfort and pleasure for ourselves or, we can live as pilgrims respecting, sharing and celebrating the beauty and abundance of the earth by taking only to meet our vital needs and not for accumulation and waste. A pilgrim lives lightly and a tourist makes a heavy footprint so I believe that all human beings need to develop a new attitude towards the earth and establish a new relationship with the earth and that new relationship is the relationship of being a pilgrim rather than a tourist…. Satish Kumar
A deep feeling of integration within the community of life
I would like to share a few thoughts around connecting more meaningfully with our natural world, so that through touching the earth and connecting the dots to the stars in a wider universe, we reawaken in our souls the memory of once having lived in close harmony with the land and her ancient ways.
Experiencing nature through the senses…
Along the path to connecting more meaningfully with nature, stand quietly for a while and in the stillness of the moment, slowly observe the world around you. Breathe deeply, drawing in the rich smells of the earth. Listen to the different bird calls or the sound of water from a nearby stream. Take off your shoes and walk barefoot, feeling the moist soil beneath your feet. You are in the moment, walking the same earth as all those who have come before you. Look across the landscape and observe the tiny tracks leading through the grass, or the hidden nest with its bits of lichen and broken twigs. Feel the wind against your skin. Through this sensory journey we connect, for a short while, with the timeless processes that sustain and nourish all life on earth.
Making the time to experience nature…
To begin the journey towards reconnecting with the natural world, we need to find the time and physical space to integrate with nature, so that we regularly hear and feel the voice of the earth around us. The sense of vitality that we experience when out in the sunlight and fresh air, surrounded by birds and living creatures, and walking dusty tracks through the forest or dry bush, is deeply restorative to our physical and spiritual selves.
Daily experiences out in nature…
There are many ways to engage daily with nature, from spending time walking outdoors to sitting quietly in the garden, listening to the birds. Keeping a nature journal or planting an indigenous garden that is left to grow profusely creates wonderful opportu-nities to observe our wild neighbours going about their daily lives. The key is to find an activity that resonates with you, so that you regularly experience this window into our natural world that thrives in symbiotic harmony around us.
Understanding our inter-connection…
To understand how all life is inter-connected is to recognise in other lives the same basic needs as our own - of seeking food and shelter, and the kinship of others. And it is to observe them from eyes leveled to their height, so that you are amongst them, in the moment, and you follow the trail of ants or become the small bird, which you wish to know better.
Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth
find reserves of strength that will endure
as long as life lasts. (Rachel Carson)