by W.R. Weiland
In our lives, there are moments when, as it is sometimes said, the universe seems to speak directly to us, extending a hand that we are eager to embrace and hopeful that our intuition serves us well along the unknown trail of time. It is the way of our world, that which it is intended to be a challenge to find the answers each of us are seeking. Even those that have secured a great deal of wisdom in their time here are tasked with maintaining a healthy pace of discovery, for these individuals possess gifts that serve to help them better listen to their soul and that of the land. These folks, I will argue, are particularly challenged with abandoning one gift in exchange for another. The gift that Nature is prepared to tap into is one which we are often hesitant to embrace because of our fear of the unknown.
When we think of Nature, images of birds busy about their nests, trees swaying in a breeze, and a snow covered forest of some far away land sitting silent in the winter night may be a few comforting thoughts which we transcend toward. Nature, though, is also manifested through other mediums, and ones which each and every living human is capable of experiencing and from which he or she can learn. Those mediums are people, and those moments that many are too quick to call chance occurrence. The encounters that have the profound impacts on our being, be it negatively or positively, are the work and order of Nature in a natural world. The choices we make in this life determine the manner in which Nature speaks to us, and in this way, those encounters become predestined. This language of the world with which Nature speaks is conveyed to us through endless mediums. It may be through books, music, people, or that breeze whisping through the canopy of a forest. No matter the medium, it is our greatest accomplishment to learn Nature’s language. The better listeners we become, the easier it is to know Nature and the answers we’re seeking.
Once we have learned to listen, there is then the exhausting process of determining how to convey our message to others. In our first world modern day society, describing Nature through a deep, contemplative philosophy presents its own obstacles. A statement like the language of the world with which Nature speaks is conveyed to us through endless mediums often evokes hostility among a public audience, and it is also testament to the disconnect that has been created between our species and the rest of the natural world. It is, in fact, perverse to neglect human heritage and its dependence on nourishment from Nature and the lands resources. Yet, it is the evolution of our society which has sickened itself because it traded the gifts of Nature for perceived conveniences.
When we began to believe that we could master Nature and abuse Earths resources to suit our needs, a disconnect was put into motion, and a gradual decline of the health of the biologic community and the land which it depends followed suit. Today, our so called leading societies have evolved to presume that we can live independently from Nature. By separating ourselves from the very essence of our being, we have cut ourselves off from the truth that each of us is seeking. What we are left with is a situation representative of the decay of individual spirit as the soul of the world is oppressed by the fabricated distractions which short sighted greed has produced.
And so, it should not be a surprise that those of us with a story to tell, wisdom from Nature to share, and a deep philosophy to teach find ourselves mentally exhausted and apprehensive to make the next move toward helping improve the ecopsychology of our human race. What we must first acknowledge is that we cannot change the world which our society has created, but we can change the world with which we surround ourselves. In doing so, the rest will fall into place. The environments which we are surrounded by shape the individuals we become. This is evolution as ecopsychology would define it. For those not familiar with the ecopsychology school of thought, I encourage you to read Ecopsychology: Restoring The Earth. Healing The Mind. The contributing writers of this book offer compelling insight to this human-Nature relationship and the disconnect that has unfolded. There are a few dozen books which have seemingly crossed my path at the most opportune times in life, and this one in particular holds the ideas and concepts that I have been attempting to understand and put words to for the better part of my time here.
It is the evolution of societies which has the significant impact on those a part of them. Learning to recognize the values of a society, the good and the bad, is elemental to the process of strengthening our relationship with Nature.
First world, modern day society has drastically distorted the idea of success. The greatest accomplishment, that is, our greatest success is to leave behind a symbol or message for those after us to look at and grow wise from, develop a deeper appreciate for our natural world, and experience a sharing of souls and all the good that is in each of us and all around us.
The work to follow this piece and the philosophy of The Marsh, as well as a new, upcoming collaborative effort between Assateague Coastal Trust (ACT), the Trash Free Assateague program of ACT, and the Delmarva Free School is the result of a lifelong contemplation of the natural world and our place in it. That is, it holds my deepest philosophical beliefs. It reflects the struggles, challenges, historical complexity, and the manner in which the senses which our species has been gifted have served to teach us about the mysterious and wild world we live in, and the one which each and every one of us is connected to and aspires towards. Whether those two worlds are one and the same, or separate, I suppose is up to the reader. Over the next several months I anticipate growing the reach of The Marsh and its philosophy, expanding the concept of ACT’s Trash Free Assateague program and the real call to action that has made that program unique and exclusive in a sea of other plastic free programs that seem to miss the real underlying problem. The work to be produced will reflect how I see the state of our times, what events and processes got us here, where I believe we’re going, and what I feel is elemental to a purposeful and fulfilling life, all by learning to recognize outer encounters of the inner kind.
This piece and others are also available at TheMarshOnline.com