In recent months, a new lease of life has been offered to our awareness and appreciation of the “nature” near our homes. Nearby nature. Even in the city, the microhabitats and gardens, trees and old walls teem with life, and, being forced to slow down, we noticed it, it noticed us, and hey presto, we’re in a relationship! Well, we’re always in relationship with the living world, but often obliviously. It’s the noticing of this relationship - sometimes called connection - that has been a gift in these months of lockdown, quarantine, furlough and shielding. The new headspace and abundance of time in which we can become consciously aware of this connection and how it fills us with delight is a perhaps unexpected blessing, especially when life has been weighing heavily on us.
So, a brand new relationship! Exciting. Even if it is with the “more-than-human” world and not with our attractive neighbour across the street. Exciting because the sensuous experience of fully-embodied nature connection is spine-tingling to say the least, and, once bitten, it is hard to resist that call of the wild, within and without. But, like all relationships, it can drift. What starts off as wonderful and vital becomes irrelevant and even invisible, sidelined by a daily life hurtling along with its usual insistence and unconcern for the gentle beauty of cosmic awe and wonder.
As the post-lockdown world picks up pace, will our nature connection inevitably fade like a summer holiday fling: all consuming in the moment and just a happy memory thereafter? The economic fallout is likely to batter the services provided by community and third sector organisations that address mental health problems and support wellbeing through nature connection. And yet it is so crucial that we keep this support there, both because the new awareness and appreciation that has been forged in these difficult times is a universal, natural high, and because these services feed into a much wider experience of ourselves as part of this greater living whole. If we can solve our own pains and challenges through this power nature has to transform our state of mind, we are much more likely to find our collective capacity to resolve the ecological crisis, too.
Director & Practitioner at EcoWild