the land – my heart
‘when I heard your whistling, I sprouted into a leaf who longs to be rolled tight and smoked into your chest, where like a cloud I’d play like a young otter…’ Martin Prechtel, ‘The Disobedience of the Daughter of the Sun
How hard it is to land the body in a new environment. I have been wrestling with urban living ever since I arrived south of the border… my heart endlessly aching for the hills and wild spaces of Scotland.
I am revisiting these pages to explore ways of reconnecting – in my case with the land whilst living here on my street in Somerset.
In the past I have pontificated on the value of urban living as a wonderful opportunity to focus on nature that is not necessarily possible when overwhelmed by the magnitude of the natural world when living amongst it.. ‘One tree observed through the seasons can be enough to keep our wild spirit alive’ I would say to any town dweller happy to listen. This homily was delivered from the bounty of the land I inhabited in the North East of Scotland. In truth I am sure that is the case, but I have since forgotten it. Until that is, recently.
Albert Camus in his book L’Etranger allows his character to find his peace through a patch of blue sky just before his execution . ‘ We live as dead men.’ he also said…with most of us not able or not willing to stop long enough to really see the world or each other.
Nan Sheperd in The Living Mountain writes, ‘ I knew when I had looked a long time that I had hardly begun to see.’ When up on the mountain, after hours of walking and watching, ‘ ..the eye sees what it didn’t see before, or sees in a new way what it had already seen.’
What wakes us up to these moments that can change our whole perspective on life?
The fundamental beauty of the minutiae is all around us.
I have been expanding my consciousness from siting on the woollen rug in my front room, to the sheep that wandered the land, the sky above them and grass they grazed. I am all these things as I sit. Likewise in the spirit of Thich Nhat Hahn, when I eat a pear, I eat collective pear-ness, all the sunshine that it carries and water that has given it life.
Suddenly the confines of my room fall away and I have wings.
From the land of Scotland I was clear about a theory but now I practice.
I listen to the wood doo on the roof opposite. I hear the traffic roaring up the road. I can focus on one or the other… allowing and not pushing away either.
Can I find my way home to the wild in this urban land where I have felt starved of big open spaces and dark skies? Can the brisk winds of home be mine through what Geneen Haugen and Bill Plotkin refer to as Homo Imaginens?
Wild, open, dark, uninhabited spaces are a luxury for all of us these days – for some, never to be experienced in the flesh.
However we do have wings that may as yet be unused… lets fly!