Throughout my life I've been aware of the need to keep nature front and centre so that I could feel more authentic and connected to what matters.
Many, many times I've failed at this, sometimes badly. And I felt the consequences of this disconnection. However I've also realised that nature never turned away from me. However many times I fail, I can pick myself up, shake myself down and re-engage without any lasting sense of dislocation.
Yet, during those times when I felt apart I could easily have stayed there, separate but strangely comfortable, alive but... really? I could easily think that life got in the way, but was that the truth? Can 'life' be something that gets in the way? This beautiful existence that no one can really explain, our whole beingness? I suppose it's a control thing, even coming down to choices we make. And just as we can make choices we can unmake them, though often not as easily.
Again and again I'm working to unmake choices in life, or reframe how I choose to spend my time. 'Spend' being an interesting turn of phrase when it comes to allocating our time, and taking ownership of that aspect of our life. And consistently I find that when I spend time on nature the connection, insights and inspiration I receive prove to me what life is for. We are meant to be exposed to the elements, to fill our eyes with a far horizon, to glory in the scent of wild things, to feel cold, hunger, ecstasy, quiet contentment and everything in between.
However our natural proclivity is to seek comfort, stasis and a full belly because these things did not come easily to our natural, long ago ancestors. Hence it takes real effort to maintain a path of nature connection and to move out of our comfort zone into a world that calls for effort, diligence and self mastery. My particular edge is getting up early. Even though I know that my day always turns out better when I'm out before the sun rises, the number of times I've simply snoozed my alarm and then laid there until the golden hour has long passed is frankly embarrassing. I'm a work in progress, and know I always will be. But that's ok. Tomorrow's another day.
The great disconnect
Nature deficit disorder is a blight that afflicts much of so called civilised society today (I say 'civilised' with tongue in cheek), and can result in depression, disconnection from self and others, anxiety, aimlessness and other mental ills. It's obvious that when we are lacking time in nature we lose some of our own essential essence, that stuff that makes us tick. Maybe this lack makes us more controllable, suggestible, maleable and unable to see any other way but to toe the line and attend to a conventional workaday life. But that's another story, let's focus on the fix.
We've long been divorced from nature and have a vanishingly small chance of returning to the life that our bones secretly desire, the path that's deeply encoded in our DNA from hunter gatherer times. Yet, all is not lost. Most definitely not! In fact the solution is here waiting for us. Nature is but a heartbeat away, ready and willing for your return home. It doesn't demand hours long roams in secluded valleys, challenging wilderness vigils or bivvying under swaying woodland canopies. Delightful and life enhancing though these activities are we can move more into lockstep with nature without such rigour.
Time without distraction
Rebalancing our core being can be as simple as reclining by a river bank or hillside, wrapped up against the cold winds of winter, with nothing to distract us from the nature around us. Nothing! No dog, no book, no companion, no notifications, no social media, no need to take pictures to share, not even an expectation of 'results'. If we can choose a place that we can return to frequently the relationship with the land will develop all the more quickly. A sit spot, a brooding spot may eventually claim you as its own, showing you the small mysteries and marvels of life. Your very own living cabinet of curiosities.
A few years ago I did step into rigour and spent four days and nights alone in a wood with just bottles of water and the wildlife for company. Still, to this day, a part of me resides in that Dartmoor forest and some of that old place inhabits me. The day after my return home, as I stood in a meadow photographing a Roe deer with her fawn, a young fox came up and rubbed itself against my leg. Apparently I hadn't stepped fully into my human being self at that point. I caught a photo of him fleeing when he realised what I was!
That is what time in nature can do for us. We will better hear the subtle messages of our guides, our own inner voice and our gut feelings. We will be able to make better decisions when we are plugged into the network of all that is that wires everything together into a biodiverse organism. Inspiration comes from breathing in the natural world, temporarily released from the constraints of a busy life which robs us of the headspace to think deeply and uniquely.
The being that is Earthlight
My passion project, Earthlight, was borne of my desire to catch the stories that I sensed during my times out and about on the land. It's now growing into something bigger than me, a force that truly embodies the phrase 'for the love of the land'. Earthlight is shapeshilfting into a being of it's own devising and I'm simply the custodian as I let nature and my guides show the way.
A pathway is now cleared, Earthlight is ready for flight. So many of our community are speaking to me of how the Earthlight films already support them as they step into self mastery. Finally it's time for more. I am excited to see how Earthlight will continue to nurture me and our clan following the launch party that's happening under the gaze of the full moon on the evening of the 8th of December. Would you like to join me for the event? To enjoy immersive short films, images, stories and to learn of the plans hatching to guide us all ever more deeply into nature for the love of the land?
If you'd like to know more, and to register for the free gathering, click the button below. If you can't make it on the night there will be a recording of the event although I will only leave this online for a few days as I'm going to share stories which are very personal to me. My Raven story in particular needs to be told. For the Love of the Land, the Earthlight launch party on the full moon evening of the 8th of December.