It’s strange when a memory hits you so hard you just have to stop and soak it in. The other day I had just returned from a run when I looked up in the trees to see a couple of wood pigeons staring down at me.
Suddenly I was catapulted back in time… I’m in my parents kitchen washing the dishes when something catches my eye, I glance up out of the window and there on the lawn less than two meters from me lies a very large and very dead pigeon. Suddenly a flash of grey and yellow streaks down from the sky, pounces on top of the bird and proceeds to pluck and devour it right in front of my eyes. I stand like a statue at the sink transfixed at the sight that is playing out before me.
A sparrow hawk has knocked out the pigeon in mid air then swooped down to claim her prize. These birds are notoriously shy and to see one up close in her natural setting is a first for me. I slightly shift my weight and she looks up and for a brief moment her eyes lock into mine. I can almost feel her wildness burn into me, and then she calmly carries on as if I was invisible, I can’t quite believe my luck.
I softly call to my dad whose love of birds is one that sometimes I think outweighs that of humans, he comes in and follows to where I’m pointing, the same look of rapt awe spreads across his face and for the next ten minutes we both take in the beauty and majesty of one of natures finest ariel hunters. My dad passed away the following year and the memory of us watching that scene is one the strongest and most beloved I have of him. I think one of the reasons is because we were both subconsciously submerged into the hawk’s world, the wild world.
This feeling of being locked into nature is familiar to us all, George Monibot in his essay Back To Nature summarises it beautifully when he suggests; “We carry with us a Ghost Psyche, adapted to a world we no longer inhibit, which contains -though it remains locked down for much of the time- a boundless capacity for fear and wonder,curiosity and enhancement”. Monibot concludes that “We are pre-tuned to the natural world, wired to respond to nature”.
Most of us know this feeling when we’re in the natural world, we might see the sun glint against a cobweb or suddenly come across an animal we rarely see. A wonderful yet familiar feeling envelops us, the sensation that we are not separate from the landscape we are viewing but part of it.
Edward O Wilson coined the term “Biophillia which proposes that there is an instinctive bond between human beings and other living systems, be that animals, birds or fauna. This would seem to make sense, and it could be argued that only since the agricultural revolution have we built fences to keep the natural world at bay. For the millennia before we were just another species that was part of natures make up, in order for us to survive we had to live in harmony with the rhythms of the wild or else we might end up as dinner for a hungry lion!
One of the challenges of the modern world is that we have become increasingly disconnected from our physical bodies and the natural environment that surrounds us. This due to urbanisation and the constant flow of external stimuli. Being able to experience “wild moments” allows us to fully reengage with our senses, illuminating the primal DNA that lies within us and which can help restore a healthy relationship with our physical bodies and realign ourselves with nature.
Actively seeking out Wild moments in our daily life can only be a good thing. It doesn’t mean we have to up sticks and move into a tree house ( though that might be fun! ), just being aware of what’s around us and really immersing ourselves in that moment can be beneficial. A prime example of this is getting outdoors when ever possible. Not only does it feel great to move our bodies in nature but also we put ourselves in an optimal state for really opening our senses and experiencing a deep connection with the environment that surrounds us and connecting with Biophillia.
So, next time you’re feeling like you need some time out, head for the great outdoors and put some wildness back into our day. It could just be the mood enhancer you’re looking for.
See Nick’s course on Re-Wilding Yourself here.