I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o’er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.
Continuous as the stars that shine
And twinkle on the milky way,
They stretched in never-ending line
Along the margin of a bay:
Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.
The waves beside them danced; but they
Out-did the sparkling waves in glee:
A poet could not but be gay,
In such a jocund company:
I gazed – and gazed – but little thought
What wealth the show to me had brought:
For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.
Daffodils, William Wordsworth
And so it is in the solitude of a four walled life, that the inner eye still holds dear those precious encounters with the wild world that sparked our joy and took us into places that longed for visitors like us.
Friends, though they ask us to distance our bodies from our beloved human community, the natural world still sings a song that longs to be heard and danced to. A song that never really stopped. And though it might have diminished in recent years, some say it has now begun to sing louder, as the clearing skies and waters reveal their treasures once again.
For those fortunate enough to have children to wander with, there is a magical world awaiting… so vast and verdant that it might consume all of our corona fears and let our caged joy roam free again. Alongside our precious children.
And so as a nature-connection facilitator, I am asked to offer some guidance to help those who have lost that connection… or now want to deepen it with their children. I shall do my best.
Looking to the Stars
In meeting with nature we can look with gratitude at the ways of our ancestors in the times of hunter gatherer life. Their way of life still dominates our genetic and species memory; and our natural instincts. It is the ancient story written in the stars, and is still present in our hearts. I find it holds much practical wisdom in it.
Re-Imagining the Hunt and Gather
In the morning time it was always the way to go on the daily "hunt". Although we may no longer need to bring back food (yet!), we can still bring adventure inspiration by setting out with an intention to encounter our wild kin and bring back a treasure or two. Perhaps we are called by the birds, or maybe it is the tiny insects. Possibly it is the best climbing tree, a hidden waterhole or the most colourful flowers. Maybe we know a plant that can be eaten or used to craft something. By talking about our treasure beforehand, we bring energy into our outing. Of course the treasures we find may be entirely different, it is merely to motivate us to go out. And even in a small yard, the right hunter will find more than enough treasure.
Opening our Senses
Of course to hear nature's song, we must open our wild ears (eyes, nose, body and mind). Our phone screen vision will not suffice! Leave our devices (and all their stories) at home for goodness sake! Do we even need our shoes?
Let us remember to pause, breathe, and activate all our senses as we move within nature. We might invite our children to do so as well. Leading by example is the most important way, however taking a blindfold and playing games that force us to use all our senses is another powerful pathway to sensory expansion.
Moving with the Child's Heart
As we forget what it is like to run wild in a field, crawl through thick scrub or scramble up tall trees in search of something wonderful, we forget what it is like to see the world as a child. When fear of a few scratches, bites or getting dirty stops us sinking into our adventures, we will miss out on so much of the magic that lies hidden from us. If we choose to engage with the world with a child's heart (and if possible a child's body) we will become excellent adventure buddies. No longer limited by our age or social conditioning we can once again let our senses widen, our bodies relax and discover we still have it in us. Taking a few risks of body and imagination will allow our children to do the same. If we let children explore their edges as we do too, they might be more inclined to have us along. In fact they might start to see us as fellow wild adventurers, not just Mum or Dad.
Questions are the best Answers
As we move on the land, no matter how widely, we are often asked questions about the wild world. In traditional fashion we might then offer answer after answer, or worse yet, pre-emptive explanations about the natural world. What if instead we let go of knowing, and explored the possibilities with our children… offering questions rather than answers. Letting them discover their own knowing… how might this empower their curiosity? I wonder? Mmm, I wonder...
The Secret Spot: The Silver Bullet
If we have an opportunity to sit still for a while, somewhere that feels special and inviting, we can open ourselves like a flower and let nature come to us. When offered at the right time in the adventure, I have seen even the wildest child still their bodies and come back full of gratitude and rare encounters. Especially when it is their very own secret spot, hidden from the human world. Somewhere that can be returned to again and again.
Sharing Stories, Sharing Treasures
After adventuring there are many ways to harvest our treasures. We might craft a basket of vines, carve a spear, offer family a wild berry, make a home for the cricket we caught or draw a picture of that rare bird we saw. We might draw a map of our adventures, marking the treasures we found. We might even come up with a song, poem or dance. Whatever treasures we have, the most important thing is to share the story. Taking time to really witness the stories of others, and share our's, is fundamental to nature connection. It puts value not just on the adventure, but on the human sharing. It inspires them to deepen their journey, to go out again and find more. And if we ask questions of genuine curiosity we can deepen the value and knowledge of that which they encountered.
In this time of physical distancing, the natural world can become our most intimate friend. It can bring healing, well-being, connection and purpose into our greatly disrupted lives. It does not have to be a wild forest, anywhere we can go within the guidelines of physical distancing that has some sense of nature will do.
Sharing stories with photos, videos and phone calls allows us to stay connected. We can set up buddies and groups that share our stories, and not just of the news or the latest casualty figures but of the magic and wonder that still remains just outside our doorsteps.
In fact, we might just find this is the greatest opportunity we have had in a long time… to once again witness the beauty of nature, to dance to it's song, remember that we are an essential part of it… and that perhaps it too longs for us to bring ourselves and our children back into deep connection with it.
So please, put down your phones, take off your shoes and head out on an adventure… Now! ;)
Should you like some more ideas check out the free Nature Connection as a Way of Life video course at www.wildbynatureaustralia.com. I plan to add more content soon to help families connect with nature in these times including a possible holiday program. You can also follow the Wild by Nature Australia Facebook page or get in touch for personal mentoring.