In the Forest

I went for a walk in the forest. A meandering walk. Not my usual purposeful morning exercise walk. I needed to be with things I heard at the Byron Bay Writers Festival last weekend. I felt stirred up.

A session provocatively titled “The Ocean is Broken” with Tim Flannery and Lisa-ann Gershwin was sobering. I know that we need to hear these tIMG_1001hings and it is not easy to take in all in one go. Our life support system, our ecosystem has been and is being altered by us humans.

Overfishing, chemicals and water temperature increases have changed things and the aquatic ecosystem is becoming more toxic and responding with things like a worldwide overgrowth of jellyfish. Lisa described one species which does not die, it just regenerates and multiplies.

Lisa reported that even if we stopped our human impact immediately it would take 10,000 to 100,000 years to begin to repair and millions more to do so and then it would be to a new ‘normal’, not what once was. We can’t go back to what was.

 

It is not in our hands, it is in the hands of this dynamic living system we live within and are one small IMG_0953part of. An anthropocentric world view, the belief that human beings are the central or most significant species on the planet, has driven unrestrained human development and is based on the illusion that we are somehow in control of nature.  The people who introduced a handful of toxic cane toads to Northern Queensland probably thought they were in control, yet 200 million cane toads prove otherwise.

 

I love saying the word, ‘anthropocentric’ out loud, I like the way it rolls around in the mouth. My other favourite word to say out loud for a similar reason is ‘recalcitrant’ and I think it applies to us humans in this time. The stubborn refusal to obey rules, in this case nature’s laws.

 

When I feel the pain, anger, sadness and helplessness that comes inevitably from facing these issues, I know the best solace is to go and connect with the earth IMG_0951herself and to listen.  I once attended a workshop run by Joanna Macy, whose work centres around needing to feel our feelings about the damage to the earth, to fuel and inspire action, rather than being overwhelmed and immobilised.

 

Joanna described to us the work she did with the people of Novozybkov, a town in Russia, 294 kilometres from the Chernobyl nuclear reactor and only one kilometre from the exclusion zone created after the 1986 disaster. It is a town that had all its wooden homes bulldozed to make way for concrete high rise homes, to get the people off the contaminated ground. They will never be allowed to enter their radioactive forest. They had always been people of the forest and they were grieving.

I felt the grief rise up in me aIMG_0998nd I went outside and lay on the earth under a huge fig tree, under the gaze of Mt Warning and cried for them, for the poisoned earth, for us all.  After a while I began to feel soothed. I am not a religious person and as I lay there some words from a long ago psalm came into my mind. ” He maketh me to lie down in green pastures, he restoreth my soul. ” As I lay there I felt a deep sense of being connected to something much greater than myself.

John Seed has said, “I finally surrendered to the earth. Now I find myself asking for guidance and direction and energy and wisdom from the earth, knowing that I am part of the earth.”

 

As I entered the forest this week it had rained overnight so the ground was damp, the colours deeper. I took my camera along to take a photo for the Breakfast Club Diaries, a Facebook group started locally and now 1000 strong and global. The invitation is to take a snap on your morning walk and post it with the time and location.

In the forest, the damp forest, I smelt the leaf litter, the musty smell of damp decaying leaves returning to thIMG_0935e soil. I saw new shoots beginning their journey upward to the light. The whole cycle of life and death right there. I listened, bells birds calling and responding, taking me back to my childhood and a drive in the family car through another forest. I looked up into the canopy of gumtrees, a grey sky filtering through. I love the grandeur of gumtrees, their majesty.

 

In the forest, the breeze whispered through the foliage. I listened. I began to feel acceptance. Acceptance that what has happened has already happened. We can’t go back. We can only go forward with what is and we all have a part to play in what the future looks like by the choices we make today. What choices will I make ?

In the forest peace finds me.

 

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One Response to “In the Forest”

  1. Libby Says:

    From one nature lover to another, I relate to these feelings strongly, and alternate at times between feeling angry and frustrated, to helpless and powerless, and ultimately arrive also at acceptance that this is where we are, and empowered to do what I can….thanks for sharing.

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