“And into the forest I go, to lose my mind and find my soul.” – John Muir
Hi friends, welcome to July. Besides trying to manage life amidst this COVID rollercoaster, I’ve been obsessed with teaching Lucas Spanish lately. I know I should have started doing this from the beginning, but I was so overwhelmed with my new role as a mom that I simply fell back on what required the least amount effort – and that was to just stick to English. The other night, I tried reading him his bed time story in Spanish, and after the first page he said,”Mommy stop talking like that.” So yeah, it’s going well. Anyway his comment made me laugh, and it also took me back about 25 years when I too refused to speak to my parents in Spanish.
I moved to the US from Chile in 1992, and at the time, was one of only two Spanish speaking students in my school. Those first few months were rough – the inability to communicate with the world around me felt scary, debilitating, and alienating. So once I learned English, I had no desire to speak anything else. English was my doorway to normalcy, to friends, to learning and achieving. I had no interest in my Chilean roots because as far as I was concerned, they did nothing but hold me back.
What I didn’t understand at the time, however, is this: the more I tried to fit in on the outside, the more lost and disconnected I felt on the inside.
The same things is happening to us right now. In the name of progress, we have lost touch with our roots. Electricity has helped us ignore our circadian rhythms. We can (and do) eat whatever foods we crave without regard for the seasons or what our local soils can produce. The amount of time we’re spending staring at a screen far outweighs the time we’re spending outside, staring at trees, mountains, rivers, and skies. We have stopped making things with our hands – why bother, we can just buy the finished product on Amazon, and who as time for that anyway? We have more faith in science than our own intuition, and value linear, “productive” thinking over creative and playful engagement. Healing that’s based on the wisdom of the body is considered “alternative” and often inferior to Western Medicine. And the list goes on.
We can deny it all we want, but it doesn’t change the fact that we are spiritual beings experiencing life in a human body that’s part of the natural world, not above it, and inextricably connected to other life on this planet. What we actually need to survive and thrive cannot be manufactured, bought, or replaced with technology. The more we “evolve” on the outside, the more lost, disconnected, and “stuck” we’ll feel on the inside. Just as trees can grow only as tall as their roots run deep, the farther we stray away from our essence the more limited our progress will be.
Of course, hitting pause on our fast-paced go-getter lifestyles to sync up with the slower, simpler rhythms of nature won’t be easy. We’re fluent in the language of modern times, and it’s both comfortable and convenient to stick with it. But, in the same way I didn’t feel whole until I fully embraced my Chilean heritage, I suspect we will never feel whole unless we learn to speak the language of the natural world we belong to.
This month, I invite you connect with your earthiness, your instincts, your true nature. Nurture your body with whole, seasonal food. Balance work with rest, and rest with play. Create with your hands. Write on paper with a real pen. Put your feet on the grass. Hang out with an animal. Turn off your phone. Garden. Cook. Dance. Go into the forest to lose your mind and find our soul.