From Noticing to Seeing

There are three particular trees across the road from me in the park area. I have given them names of sorts. There is the Dragon tree – an7-1179 old rough eucalypt, with stringy bark, and blood red sap, that defies identification. It hides a myriad spiders and beetles in the dark and dusty nooks and crannies of its base. It doesn’t look beautiful in the usual way. It’s liable to make people think of dark things in the night that bite, and they will probably warn their children away from it.
 

 

Then2-1165 there is the Grandmother Tree – a lemon gum. She is huge, her bark shiny white at the right time, but currently a sort of dusky pink, as we are nearing the end of bark fall. My arms would not even go half way round her old trunk, and she stretches high and always had cockatoos,
lorikeets or rosellas nesting in one or other hole.

 

Lastly, there’s the Vision tree, which has eyes in its trunk. I did find out what it was called but I’ve forgotten. It doesn’t matter. Perhaps you will recognise it from the picture. I like to sit with my back to it and imagine it helps me find my way through difficulties.

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I paid a visit to these trees while out walking, yesterday, and as I did so, I considered the nature of feeling connected to environment. To be perfectly honest, I actually stood with my hand on each tree and asked them to help me figure this connection thing out, and no, I’m not crazy. I’m just imaginative and creative.

The realm of connection – feeling connected to others – starts in infancy before we have language. Connection is about feelings, emotions, and sensory cues – touch, sight, sound, taste, smell and intuition. None of these things require a language of words. Instead they require art, creativity – the things our subconscious brain loves. Oh yes – words become helpful once we grow, as the acquisition of language allows us to build images or pictures with words and bridge the gap or guard the gate between our conscious and sub-conscious awareness.

I suggested, in my last post, that the very beginning of feeling connected to environment was “noticing”. Now I will suggest that the next step involves the senses – not just noticing, but seeing – taking in, pausing for a moment.
Listen actively to the birds. If you listen carefully you will begin to notice more clearly the many nuances to their chatter, and you will start to appreciate that you are hearing complex language, not just mindless twittering.
When you notice a tree, let the artistry of it sink in. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a naturally growing tree (un-hacked by humans) that isn’t artistic in the way it arranges itself.
If you have the time and inclination, you may like to try a Taoist tree meditation.
Oh – and on the subject of being aware of and connected to the environment, today is the longest day in the southern hemisphere, so I wish you all a wonderful Alban Hefin.

 

Connection

I am still reading and learning about what makes us feel connected to our planet – connected enough to want to nurture other forms of life and rich diversity. I have no difficulty with conceptualising my dependence on clean air and water and the interconnectedness of things that make up a healthy ecosystem. However, for many folk this is something that barely enters their minds, and they continue through life oblivious to the destruction around them and scathing of any suggestion that something needs to change.

Somewhere in between are the other folk – those who, once the matter is brought to their attention, take time to reach out and grow and shift and learn. We need more of you. We need you – the ones who remember running wild as you grew, climbing trees, enjoying beetles and butterflies, but lost all that somewhere in the muddle of work, parenthood and other responsibilities.

Connection, or reconnection, begins with looking up, and noticing the sky, and seeing what the clouds are doing today; looking around and noticing the trees in a little more detail – the artistry in the twist of the branches and bark patterns. Take a breath – consciously – and remind yourself that you can’t live without those trees, that you are dependent on the water falling from the clouds being clean enough to drink when it reaches you. It is this planet, this environment that sustains you and it’s time to remember.

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And so it begins

It’s time. Little steps will lead to bigger things and it’s only by making a start that one can find oneself on a journey.

I have a question. Why do I feel connected to the environment around me, while other people don’t? What makes me this way, living in suburban Sydney, and working daily in a concrete slab of a hospital with precious few windows?

I remember, as a child, dancing barefoot across the sparkly, dewy lawn early in the morning before my parents were awake. I watched spiders spin webs with great patience (mine and theirs), and watched how they caught flies. I imagined being a wild girl living among the animals.

Between then and now came years of growing up, education, working with people, working with computers, and all the trappings of adult life and responsibility that pulled me in other directions. But still I keep returning to the environment. I’d by a plant for my office, I’d find a space to walk with trees. Now, more than ever, I acknowledge the birds, I visit the plants, I love the bees and hoverflies, I hold conversations with spiders and skinks.

I am increasingly in awe of how little we grasp of their complex language and lives. We think we are clever because we can build things, but we still can’t spin a web like a spider or work collectively to create a beehive out of wax we have made from flowers. We are only just acknowledging the culture that wolves, whales and birds of the corvid family show, in scientific circles, although it’s been there all along. Too many of us have been blinded by the idea of our being dominant and something other than just another species on this planet – something “not an animal”.

I believe this idea of our superiority and our loss of our sense of connection with, and dependence on, all of the rest of life on this planet is a deep underlying key to our current predicament. We face an environment becoming increasingly hostile through our own doing. I believe that we have the knowledge and ability to change that.

This is my beginning, where I will learn about and share ways to reconnect to the environment, reclaim a sense of belonging to our beloved planet Earth, for she is ours and we are hers and it was never meant to be any other way.

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