when I was a child, about 10-12 years old
there were times when I would be in the midst of an uninhabited space
and feelings of peace, and of relief would wash over me
I felt able to open up and breathe
I felt I was being shown
a different way to understand my place in the world
in the face of open expanses of land and sea and sky
I felt small and insignificant
and it was a comfort
I would lie on the ground and imagine
that I could be unmade
all my many parts become small enough that I could be carried on the wind
disperse across the land
to disappear from the human world and fall into the earth
to take root like so many tiny seeds
and this was not a sad thing
I almost longed for it
this communion with the land
I accepted this alternative perspective
as a child
and I still do
in this time of quiet
I look out my window
looking onto trees
and all I hear is the wind and calls of birds
and I’m aware that this wild natural world doesn’t need me
I’m not important to it
I could leave now and it would go on
and I’m back where I was as a child
wanting to disintegrate and be subsumed
to be embraced by the rich dark earth
to be transformed
to come back as a leaf or a song or an iridescent feather
With the gift of hind-sight I recognize there was an element of escapism in my childhood feelings.
The future was all uncertainty and this desire for disintegration meant I wouldn’t need to confront the unknown country of my teenage years or an incomprehensible adulthood.
And what I realise now, is that this youthful desire, which I sensed then as a desire to disintegrate, to become disembodied, to fly apart into myriad specks of star dust, was really a desire to be integrated into something bigger than myself, something dependable and strong. I wanted to be held safe.
I imagine it now as a desire to become embodied, through re-integration with the land.
It seems that very little has changed.
During this time of isolation, of nationwide lockdown in order to overcome the threat of the corona virus, I’ve had days when this feeling has returned.
There’s something about the quietness, the stillness of current times, that is reminding me to reconnect on a deeper level with the pulse of the land.
I’ve wished I could just walk out into the hills and be absorbed into the ground.
And more than that, I’ve had the sense of how little I matter, and that if humanity stepped aside, the natural world would find its balance again without the stress of our presence.
It’s not that I don’t think my life has purpose or value. It has as much purpose as a seedling pushing its way up through the earth. It has as much value as the shimmer on the back of a bird, the purr of a cat.
It’s just that there are days when I can’t bear the suffering we impose on the land and every other creature that walks or swims or flies.
I walk barefoot every chance I get.
It’s my way of staying connected.
(written all the way back on 12 April
– near the start of the lockdown in NZ)