I’m sitting with my friend Robin on the deck overlooking the garden. “Mmm”, Robin muses, “OK, I am at the cottage sitting by the lake and my legs are dangling in the water and I am watching little minnows nibbling at my feet. Is that a deep connection with nature? I mean, is that deep enough? Or could it get deeper?”
We are talking about a course I have just designed to facilitate a deeper connection with nature. I’ve asked for Robin’s input. As a now retired VP at a telecommunications company, and a great strategist, I value Robin’s thoughts on where I might take my course, who I might offer it to.
“Well, maybe you did have a deep connection, a real, raw contact with nature”, I mused. “I imagine we all have them from time to time, at least a couple times in our lives. These are moments when we are totally absorbed, focused, ‘in tune with’ it, moments when we feel intimately linked with nature, in silent conversation with it, as it were.”
What this course is about is creating these kinds of connections on a regular basis. Rather than haphazardly, we can intentionally cultivate these transcendent moments.
“Have you ever been in the presence of a tree?”, Robin said. “Yes”, I smiled. “That is what I am talking about.”
“And then”, said Robin, “there is the ‘so what?’ Why should we care if we do so? What is the value?”
“Well, that is the essence of the problem”, I said. “Our society doesn’t value this. Our society doesn’t care if we connect with nature deeply because everything has to have some practical, and even better, monetary value. Yet, connecting with nature is part of our spiritual make up. Our sense of being a part of something more than just us. We are lost, unanchored, because we are lacking that. And so we consume instead. Which is why we are having an ecological crisis.”
“OK”, says Robin. “I am going for a run and sometimes I have this experience of great profound connection. Everything falls away and I am there, taking it all in. But not very often. And I don’t say to myself ‘Hey, I want more of that!’ why not?”
“Mmm”, I reflect. “I think it is to do with how we are addicted. We are addicted to things, to having, to constant stimulation, to thinking all the time. And to get to a point where we want more of what really nourishes us, we have to let go of our addictions. Achieving sobriety, which doesn’t feel tremendous at first. It’s like changing your diet to something healthier. At first you just crave the sweets and fats. But after awhile your body changes and starts to notice and appreciate the more subtle tastes of the carrot you are eating instead of a sweet.”
“Yes. There is something else, though. Why I don’t even notice that I am missing this thing.” Robin thinks for a few minutes and we sit in companionable silence. Finally he says:
“It’s a different vibration.”
Yes. That is right. A different vibration.