I have been completely struck reading Sharon Butala's contemplations on land, how easily we can get disconnected from the earth, from the wild. How to remedy that? I feel a deep pervasive sorrow that even though I think I am a person who has an abiding affection for nature, I've let it become rote, I've become casual and off-hand with my connection to it. I've taken it for granted.
In my therapy practice, every client gets one piece of homework that is the same as every other client - and that is that they walk daily, near trees, and without companionship except for perhaps a well-behaved dog. When they notice they are worrying, fretting, planning the future, regretting the past - they are to instead notice their sensory connection to nature, and to their bodies. They are asked to bring their attention to what they can smell, what noises they hear, how their bodies feel moving through space, their feet landing on the path or side-walk. They are to lose their minds, and come to their senses.
I often give younger clients a suggestion to read Bruce Chatwin's Songlines - itself a contemplation on the natural goodness of walking, on healing nature and being healed by it.
I think this needs to be a more important voice in my novel. I am feeling my way towards it - it is in the book - in many different ways - how the protagonist finds herself abandoned by what she had depended on - a solid if sometimes empty marriage; a job that in itself had meaning but with which she had become cynical, an easy sense of material wealth. And how she finds instead something that doesn't seem to fit initially - a bothersome much bigger family, connections that want her heart not just her mind, work that is difficult but demands every aspect of her - engagement in all aspects of her life. And how this comes to her because she walks this land she had no understanding of - how the land teaches her.
So, dear journal and dear readers, the challenge for this Friday is to aimlessly wander in nature this weekend and listen to what it has to tell you. Clear your mind of any other agenda item - as you would if you were meeting a dear friend after a long absence. And listen. That's what I'll be doing.
the land that speaks to me the most.