The Call of the WILD

(a case for ecopsychology)

Shall I go to the park today?

No! I will stay at home and look at the animals and trees, the mountains and oceans on the television. I shall live my life through a radioactive light-emitting screen, remaining at a safe distance at all times. I have done too much damage already.

But without a direct experience of nature how can I truly understand my own nature? Without fully experiencing the power of nature in all its sublime and mischievous mystery and cruel and terrifying glory, how will I ever understand the damage I have done or am really capable of? And how may I learn to take the steps to act more responsibly?

As an integral expression of nature it is my birthright to participate and to express my own nature, for good or ill, within the world. Nature does not judge me for the changes I make or the mistakes I may venture other than through an expression of scarcity, depleted as a response to my own need and through my own inability to read and respond appropriately, sensitively and intelligently to any evolving situation that may emerge.

breaking wave, westward ho! (pward 2013)breaking wave, westward ho! (pward 2013)

But where is the wild and where does it end? How may I define the boundaries of nature’s expression? While I may try, and have tried, to detach myself from nature and my own nature, or at least to perceive myself as in some way detached – is this ever truly possible except within the imaginative abstraction of my mind – yet another manifestation of it all?

I cannot escape from my influence within nature nor my responsibility to participate and experience. The longer I continue to live in guilt for my behaviour rather than seeing it as an inquisitive expression of my evolution I will continue to live in apparent disharmony and compound my own misery, my own self-victimization. And as I continue to delude myself with a belief in an ability to fix, to protect, to mend and solve, so I continue to affirm an arrogance and sense of detachment from my essential state of animate becoming – my humble place within it all. It is only my own relationship that I may heal through experience and understanding.

at the edge of the quay, bideford (pward 2013) at the edge of the quay, bideford (pward 2013)

And so I continue to talk about and talk about and talk about that which may only be experienced in the nature of my own becoming, wherever I am and in whatever circumstance I find myself. I have lost my way and then gone nowhere; I have lost my freedom to walk about in my obsession to talk about.

.

So, shall I go to the park today?

.

Well, actually yes, I will!

And throw stones in the water

and climb trees

and dig holes

and make dams

and kick the earth in all her dirt and glory

and shout and scream as loud as I can

and wholeheartedly interfere as best I can

because I can,

because I am human,

because I am alive …

footprints, northam (pward 2013)footprints, northam (pward 2013)

“Some speak of a return to Nature. I wonder where they could have been?” Frederick Sommer

Over the past years I have been continually frustrated and confounded by the many well-meaning attempts to redress the obvious ecological problems that are apparent in the world and in our relationship to nature, the source of all our experience. Despite clear evidence regarding the benefits of direct contact and experience of wildlife a disempowering sense of guilt about our heavy-handed behaviour and sentimentality towards our perpetual neighbours grips us, crippling our ability to live to the fullness of our terrestrial being. Only we can and do judge from our insignificantly arrogant perspective. Only we try to govern and control forces greater then ourselves. But not only we do live. To live in harmony with this planet first we must decide to live, to act within the forces that abound, rather than divorce ourselves from them. We must learn to accept our condition in all its power and only then will we begin to redress our ever-emerging situation for the good of all.

P Ward 2013

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