It is so easy to get caught up in the peculiar human lives we have created for ourselves. I, like most of you I imagine, can get so trapped in the day-to-day ‘to do list’ that I forget the lifelong ‘how I want to live list’ which it turns out isn’t really a list, but an inner record of the things I have learnt along the way that make my heart sing.
Often just when I have gone so deep into the day-to-day that I may never return, something happens to nudge me awake. Luckily it happens to me a lot nowadays, some may call it the mid-life crisis but I like to think it is my soul, calling me to live in accordance with this inner record, an inner compass so to speak that is trying constantly to call me home.
Such a nudge happened this morning as I randomly read an article in National Geographic about New Mexico’s Gila Wilderness, gazing in wonderment at photos of land so beautiful it made me ache and the story that inspired it to become protected. It goes something like this:
“In 1909, a young forester was surveying land in the southwestern corner of the New Mexico territory. He was eating lunch on a rock rim with some of his men. They spied a wolf and her pups in the canyon, grabbed their rifles and shot them. Wolves, then, were considered vermin, the destroyer of cattle, elk and deer, and eliminating them, and all predators, would create a better environment.
Near the end of his life, the forester wrote: We reached the old wolf in time to watch a fierce green fire dying in her eyes….I was young then, and full of trigger itch; I thought that because fewer wolves meant more deer, that no wolves would mean hunter’s paradise. But after seeing the green fire die, I sensed that neither the wolf nor the mountain agreed with such a view.”
Later in life, this forester wrote a letter calling for a new land designation, a place left unaltered by humans. He identified 1200 square miles at the centre of the Gila national forest which contained the headwaters of the Gila river and in 1924, the forest service designated it as the world’s first wilderness area.
It is a story that encapsulates modern humanity, speaking perfectly to the reasoning that has brought us to this point and why we have ended up where we are. It also portrays what we are capable of recognising about our behaviours and actions when the truth catches us off guard. It also shows us the power we have as individuals to inform positive change and the humbling importance of every life, human and non-human, how all life deserves to be held sacred.
Within the time it took to gaze at those epic photos and read those 2 paragraphs, something within me stilled enough to remember. My life whispered to me “dear Anne, feel into that sense of longing you have deep inside you (as it is very easy to miss with all of life’s distractions!) the longing to feel a true part of everything, to feel whole, to feel connected through every emotion, every action, that longing to be, belonging”
Belonging, that affinity to place, to people. Our hearts all crave it. But in trying to remove hardship and working out how to address many of our basic physical needs, we have removed the sanctity of relationship. Relationship to the land, to the plants and animals that support and love us, to each other and to ourselves. A cost proving to be far too high.
I don’t know what the answers are but for me learning to live life in a way that feels more congruent with our truer blueprint insists on a rebuilding of these relationships. But cultivating them in a way that honours who we now are, not romanticises who we once were.
The rise of rituals and sacred Ceremony highlights the cultural desire for such connections. Why do you think we work with tea! But harnessing the power of growing relationships to become a form of sacred activism, where expansion and growth can be good for the bigger world is what really interests me and it starts with us, as individuals and small collectives facing the truth and looking for new paths. Myself and the practitioner Communitea I work with are about to begin testing the waters in a very small way and I will let you know how it goes :)