Written by Tom Morgan
Feb 26 2017
Sometimes I feel a deep sadness when listening to stories and teachings from our indigenous relatives, it gets to me, there is a sense that I am missing something, that I am not whole, that I am running on safe mode or something, that my potential as a connected human being has been somehow stolen from me, not by anybody in particular but I suppose by the times in which I live. There is sadness there but there is also a calling. It can seem sometimes overwhelming; the endeavor to relearn or maybe re-remember the knowledge of our lands plants, animals or weather, especially when making comparisons with what we hear about our ancestors and the profound wisdom and intimacy they seem to have had with the natural world. But I suppose times are different and we have to start somewhere and essentially what I think I am seeking is connection, the knowledge and intimacy will follow naturally if I ask the right questions. I am seeking to be connected to that sense of wonder, that awe, that sense of love for my surroundings, the childlike joy of sensing the rain, the sensation of the wind tearing through my clothes and chilling me to the core, the aliveness that brings, the magic of a naked flame, the insatiable curiosity into the lives of all the non human cousins that I share my place with, the medicine of the plants I live with. I often get glimpses of this when I give myself the gift of a weekend sleeping out in the forest and it is so nourishing but when I come home there is nothing to support and nurture that experience, to help it to grow. Maybe It is a sense of community that can offer this support, a community that acknowledges the power of this nature connection stuff, this wonderful and much needed endeavor. This is what I would like to try and create with this project. A shared walkabout to borrow the term from the aboringinals of australia. Where we can walk back onto the land with curious minds and open hearts together and share our stories along the way, support each other on our own unique learning journeys and have a stupendous amount of fun doing so. I know I am not alone in this desire for connection in fact I would imagine that it is something that is alive in almost everybody I meet whether they are able to articulate it or not.
And the power of telling a story is something I have always neglected. I have become a rampant individualist, it is something I have inherited I think, a bad habit I have picked up, hoarding my experiences as my own and being precious with them, not sharing them, thinking that to share them would come across as bragging or something like that, but maybe a different way of looking at it is that it is an act of generosity to share a story, i certainly feel that when somebody shares their story with me, so why have i always tended to be guarded with my own?
It struck me recently very clearly when I made the very simple comparison between dreaming and learning. For example; when I wake up and immediately tell somebody my dream, that dream stays alive in me, when I don’t I it just dissolves, I’ll go to tell somebody later in the day and I don’t have the foggiest idea what it was about or worst still I have totally forgotten that I even had a dream. The same process happens when I am trying to learn something, as soon as I share my story, the curious fact I read in an article somewhere or an observation I made whilst sitting in the woods, it gets filed in a folder in my brain, one that I know how to access. If I don’t share it however, it goes to one of those temporary document folders hidden in the depths of my hard drive where all the files are just jumbled arrangements of numbers and letters that make no sense to anybody. It is such a simple thing but so powerful and it has been missing from my past experiences of learning and maybe that’s why I am so bad at it. So this is a big part of the intention of this walk, to create a culture of sharing our stories, asking each other questions, supporting one another in our own distinctive learning adventures.
I have noticed how I learn and how I don’t learn in my time and I have noticed that I have only ever learned something well when whatever it is I am learning is totally alive in me. The amount of times I have started an online course is laughable considering I haven’t finished a single one and I can’t remember how many times I have tried to learn a language by listening to an audiotape or going through a home study programme and it never worked, not once.. But I did however manage it when I moved to a foreign city and immersed myself in a language so deeply that I had no choice but to learn it, what’s more is that it was so much fun, it was like a game. Every word I learned had a story behind it. It had some real experiential context and it didn’t really require a whole lot of effort. Just some serious play! And that is how I want to learn about nature, by playing. Earlier I mentioned that the knowledge naturally follows the connection as long as I ask the right questions, So what are the right questions? I don’t suppose it really matters as long as they are questions that meet my edges, questions I cannot answer because then I will learn something. My curiosity will never be totally fed, it will always be a little bit hungry. In order to really learn something years of attention must be paid and the finer nuances come only with deep immersion and the passage of time.
So it has to be immersive and it has to be fun and it has to make me feel alive or I am not going to retain anything. but It seems I need to constantly remind myself of the beautiful simplicity of this process, to return to just playing in the woods and allowing the birds to tame my feral attention span with their mystical calls and songs. maybe I have to unlearn how to learn in order to really learn.
So these are 3 things that I would like to explore on this journey, reconnecting with the land and everybody on it living or not living, learning something about the lives and ecology of the place, and sharing this process with my fellow humans supporting it in others and exploring ways to bring these things into our wider communities.