The fact that we are animals and that we are deeply connected to this earth is not “new” information….I know this….you know this…but we can all admit that we DO forget this…we constantly forget this! I remember a student coming up to me after class after I had read the Mary Oliver poem “ Sleeping in the Forest”. He thanked me for reading the poem and he said he didn’t have time anymore to “go to nature”. I reminded him that HE was nature and the grass outside his office, and the trees and the sky and the birds around him WERE nature..he dismissed what I was saying and said that’s not the kind of nature that he meant. He meant going to a forest like Muir Woods. There was a sense of regret and frustration inside of him. I could feel it. This man, this amazing creature, had forgotten who and what he is. Don’t get me wrong…I know that the feeling you get surrounded by giant redwoods, ferns, moss, dappled sunlight, mushrooms, with that smell of earth and leaves. The sound of wind and hidden creatures…is not the same as the life you encounter outside of your office building or home. The noise of traffic and concrete are powerful veils that disguise the life that is teeming INSIDE of us and AROUND us. Just try taking a walk down the street with a three year old! They will show you…the blades of grass coming up from the cracks in the concrete..the fascinating trail of ants…the slugs, the worms…
This idea that we are separate from nature is hypnotic, persistent and absurd!!! So today..take a deep breath…notice that you are pulling what the mind sees as “outside of you” inward, and what we perceive to be “inside of us” is going out. Separateness is an illusion. Nature is not always somewhere you have “to go to” it is here, now, inside of you.
And just for fun, here is the Mary Oliver poem “Sleeping in the Forest”
I thought the earth remembered me,
she took me back so tenderly,
arranging her dark skirts, her pockets
full of lichens and seeds.
I slept as never before, a stone on the river bed,
nothing between me and the white fire of the stars
but my thoughts, and they floated light as moths
among the branches of the perfect trees.
All night I heard the small kingdoms
breathing around me, the insects,
and the birds who do their work in the darkness.
All night I rose and fell, as if in water,
grappling with a luminous doom. By morning
I had vanished at least a dozen times
into something better.
From Sleeping In The Forest by Mary Oliver
© Mary Oliver