A Philosophy of Connection
Since I was a boy exploring streams and woods in the Pacific Northwest I’ve stood slack-jawed watching the spectacle of Life around me. Sunlight slanting yellow through cedars, the marbled clarity of stream water singing past, breezes in tall grass, the choreography of evening-lit clouds all stop me to wonder. Textures of things – tree bark, water-polished granite, cold wind on the cheek, really the touch of any wild thing – enchants me, often arousing a quiet ecstasy, an inexplicable sense of well-being.
I’m not alone. Through decades of leading people in wild places, I watched amazed how simple time spent in contact with nature will exercise a beneficial effect on people of every age group. Words to describe it? Maybe peace, relaxation, well-being, clarity, energy, harmony, quiet joy, exhilaration, inspiration, exuberance — these words come to mind.
Most environmental organizations aim at the noble and crucial task of protecting natural systems by cultivating informed and concerned citizens. Yet another need is equally important: All of us – individually and collectively – need a felt connection to nature for our genuine well-being, on a psychological and spiritual level, as well as for physical survival. Our connection to nature is ancient, yet modern life increasingly distances us, even severs us from nature. When we are young most of us feel that natural bond with the world. How can we retain, relish and grow this fundamental inborn connection amidst increasingly busy, complex and technological lives?
Simple, Life-Giving Connections with Nature in Everyday Life
These nature-based blogs, poems, stories, images and other offerings are geared to help you connect consciously, in the course of your everyday world, with the wildness close by, in neighborhoods, along commutes, along morning walks or in backyards, as well as on more serious forays among rivers, peaks and woods.
All these offerings are born of curiosity and wonder. They explore the dynamic interplay between human perception and the natural world. Perhaps these words, images and sounds will spark your own perceptive capacities, will contribute some new dimension of seeing, feeling and sensing to nourish you along your way.
Nature offers countless, frequent openings through which we can look with awe into the heart of Life and feel gently into our own essential nature. Yet, seeing is not passive; true hearing does not simply happen. Feeling the world deeply is a lifelong pursuit of opening ourselves curiously and sensitively to what Life offers. Attention, openness, stillness, delight, joy, astonishment: these broaden the portals of the senses and swing open the heart sufficiently to awaken something magical in us, something impossible to name, something having to do with belonging and bondedness, with what some might call soul, a perception of the river of Life flowing around us, through us, even as us.
Here are some themes you’ll find explored here:
- We are part of nature, our bodies and minds deeply intertwined with nature
- Nature brings us alive in an essential way
- Discover the extraordinary in the ordinary – rediscovering joy in common scenes, familiar places, and little things
- Small wildernesses; the flexible dimensions of beauty
- The art of looking closely; the nourishment of seeing
- The art of feeling
- The art and gift of stillness
- Nature as metaphor – the life teacher
- Learning to feel presences, the subtle essence of things
- Nature as an expression of The Great Life
The journey is both light-hearted and earnest, the discoveries transformative yet joyous and full of delight. Here I share some of my own journey hoping it will contribute something worthwhile to yours.