I’ve been wondering lately whether the unfolding of life is a bit like being a dog on a trail. Following a scent we get lead in all kinds of directions – one to the next, to the next, to the next. And then, we’re off for the adventure, following the path to wherever it goes. And I absolutely love this about life – we may set our goals or direction, but we don’t know the journey they’ll take us on. We start with a whiff of what is possible and let that be our guide. To live this way asks us to trust in the process, to know that the scent which delights our nostrils wishes us to follow. We rarely know how the jigsaw puzzle will fit together, but begin it we must. The same can be said for this piece of writing.
In the last few years the trail has lead me to photographing the free-roaming ponies of Dartmoor, sharing their raw beauty and wildness. It was a modest beginning that has taken me in wonderful directions. The unravelling has lead me here and to a deeper relationship with the natural world than I imagined in my wildest dreams. And still I feel I’m only touching the edges of that. Perhaps that’s because in working with one part of nature we touch the whole, and somehow the vastness of that world begins to sink in. The potential for our connection with the natural world is immense. The balance of it is, however, fragile.
My journey with nature began from being a tiny tot, obsessed with the creatures and plants in the garden, wanting always to share their beauty with others – that much is still absolutely the same. My first memories are vividly of such things. You can read my opening blog here for that story. What has happened all across my life is an uncovering and a developing of my own, personal relationship with our Earth. Every piece of work or inspiration I’ve had has taken root in the natural world somewhere. Even when I think it hasn’t I’m lead back to that truth. And this relationship is a deep one. When we feel this love of nature as a relationship, the connection takes on a different meaning. Suddenly we can realise that things are not just connected, but that we are interconnected with ALL life on this planet. I’m increasingly inspired by what I’m learning of other’s approaches to this relationship – both Indigenous and modern. In the past days it’s like I found the pieces of the puzzle that slot closely together. Suddenly there’s a new clarity. All these different avenues I’ve followed over the years are linking and fitting together in a way I’ve never known before. I realise that nothing I’ve ever done following that passion has ever been wasted.
The past five years have been like a crash course in deeper nature connection for me. It really was catalysed by deciding I wanted to become an Animal Communicator. After my first weekend of learning, absolutely everything changed and in hindsight I realise I was blown wide open to a new way of approaching and experiencing the world. Underneath that was a deep remembering of what I’d felt as a child and in my bones – that this interconnection with animals and all living things isn’t just possible – it’s ever present. And that connection is happening all the time whether we notice it or not, it’s everywhere. Our modern lives are often set up in ways that are more disconnected with nature. It can be easy to forget that there is a world going on outside of that that operates in a delicate and ever changing balance, one which we are entirely reliant upon. It’s hard to imagine just how much we need our Earth to live and breathe healthily, how much we are a part of that entwined ecosystem. And how very much we do make a difference.
It really is a beautiful thing to be here, regardless of the challenges we face in re-harmonising our world and working to re-balance what has been lost. It’s a mighty task, but not one without hope in my opinion. Although I feel it’s essential that we be bombarded with images and information that wakes us up to the urgency of what our beautiful Earth is suffering right now, I also feel that without being given the information that suggests possible solutions, we become overwhelmed, numb and shut-down. It’s staggering to think that in the UK between the 1930’s and 2016 we had lost 97% of our wild flower meadows. Faith placed in others to make the changes for us wastes time and energy. We can feel a hopelessness that freezes our actions – we don’t know which way to go. This hopelessness is one of the greatest challenges that we face because it de-motivates us. Closing our eyes to it won’t help. Apathy is no friend of change.
As much as I could talk about all the things we’re not doing, I’d rather focus my attention on what is possible. Whether anyone thinks I’m naive in my sensibilities or not, I wholly believe that it is our connection with nature and our love of nature that will pull us through. That may sound over simplistic, but it is not. The whole of our ecosystem is a delicate balance. Each one of us is like the cells of Earth, the parts of the body that make up this whole being. The rivers, the trees, the seas, oceans, mountains, animals, minerals, plants, humans – everything – are part of that living, breathing system. When we view the Earth as a living being, more like a body, it takes on a different view. Thinking in those lines….if we were having repeated chemicals thrown on our skin, having our organs and resources taken without being asked, being beaten, drilled, having our veins blocked or re-directed, given food that didn’t suit us let alone nourish us, not hearing ‘thank you’ or ‘sorry’ enough – wouldn’t we be bloated, tired, angry, cranky, windy, and spewing stuff back out again?! Wouldn’t we be trying everything we could to get ourselves back to health no matter the extreme measures? Wouldn’t we want to be heard and be shouting as loud as we could for help? So that is what we have got. We need to listen to our bodies when they are sick. Likewise, we need to listen to the Earth. Parts die off, parts are born, parts re-grow, parts are in creation constantly. We shift in and out of balance, in and out of health. We are the microcosm and the macrocosm. We never were supposed to be the whole jigsaw, but instead – pieces of the amazing puzzle that is our planet. When we get an understanding of that, even the tiniest one, it really can transform our thinking. And when our thoughts change, our actions can change too. What we do and how we act can shift that balance more quickly than we realise. And that’s the wonderful, double-edged thing. The way we push the direction is up to us.
When faced with the global picture as individuals it’s overwhelming. But we wouldn’t expect one cell in our body to heal the entire body would we? We would know that it takes much energy and collaboration to heal the whole. Not every cell (or person) can be part of the healing, and nor will they be, but we’re all involved somehow. And that is much of how the natural world works. It’s a huge collaboration, a joint effort – we work together, each plays a part. We are not separate. Whatever the modern world leads us to believe in human terms, we are absolutely interconnected. And for the most part, I think we do care and we do want to change, and change is happening. We need to support each other in that, because what we focus on comes into creation. Jane Goodall speaks of how tiny acts multiplied create great change and I couldn’t agree more.
Nature if left to it’s own devices regrows itself and regenerates. All species affect the habitat they inhabit, every single one of us has some kind of footprint. We cannot get away from that fact. In nature of course if a branch comes down from a tree, it boosts the roots by rotting away at its base. Nature is absolutely intelligent and perfectly able to restore itself all on it’s own. With the human impact it’s different, purely because of the velocity at which we are affecting change. For the natural world to catch up with at the speed we’re going is pretty impossible whilst we’re on the planet, living as we are. We are so powerful in our ability to create, and we can create solutions when we work with nature. Life in its essence is change, we’re learning all the time. I spent years working as a gardener, loving tending the land, I followed the rules and dug the soil, tidied everything up. I pruned and cut back growth all the time. And now I’ve come to the realisation that I no longer wish to physically dig up the earth. I want to work on restoring it, I want to work with the earth and animals in new ways. I’m changing my focus that’s all. As I learn, I too, change.
When we work with nature, instead of against, there are infinite possibilities. I’m learning more every day and it excites me, I am not a scientist, nor an expert in such things. I am expert only in the life I am committed to creating – that involves what I learn from working directly with the animals and nature itself, sharing that with others in multiple ways. What I’m reading about right now fuels my hunger for a future that is beyond the gloom we’re often bombarded with, it gives me that greatest gift of all – hope. We’re living in a unique time and we’re going to have to adapt and change if we want to continue being here and we are changing. And here is what I see….As individuals or small collectives we’re realising that we are not without power. We can plant wild flowers in our gardens or balconies, we can grow some food (yes, even in urban environments), we can support our local economies as much as possible, we can demand alternatives to plastic (because consumers really do create the market), we can recycle clothes and buy pre-loved, bring a re-usable cup for our coffee. We can create city gardens and bee highways, we can go to beach or litter clean-ups, we can guerrilla plant, we can switch our shampoo and washing liquid to chemical free, we can stop using pesticides in our gardens, we can grow a meadow instead of a lawn, feed the birds, go walking, buy cruelty free, eat less meat or no meat, reduce or drop dairy and so very much more. These small things are actually, immense.
If we talk with others and share our projects and goals, we act as sponges for information and ideas – we become the cross-pollinators of our lives. We can educate ourselves about the planet and really be jolted into action by the horrors of what we see rather than flattened/frozen by them. We can decide what we would like to focus on creating. Whether we think it’s too late or not, thinking about it alone won’t do anything. Action is the antidote to apathy, so just pick your cause(s) and roll with it, there’s plenty to choose from and you will make a difference. It really is an exciting time to be here, we can see ourselves as defeated or motivated. The choice is ours and the time really is now. Your Earth Needs You. And you need your Earth…
With gratitude to the amazing Earth we live on and all us who inhabit the planet. Let’s do this…..
Things I love currently:
One Planet (Netflix), Wilding (Isabella Tree), George Monbiot generally, The Beautiful World Our Hearts Know Is Possible (Charles Eisenstein), Timeless Simplicity (John Lane), Aluna (Kogi People of Columbia), We Borrow The Earth (Patrick Jasper Lee), Reclaiming The Wild Soul (Mary Reynolds Thompson), The Boy Who Harnessed The Wind (Netflix), Strong Women Wild Horses (Youtube), The Ponies of Dartmoor and so much more….