FAST WISDOM™ NEWSLETTER
By Lonner Holden
Inter-Dependence Day: Nature as Freedom
The “Phwump!”, “Boom!”, “Pop!” and “Swizzle!” sounds of the fireworks bounced and clattered across the smooth and dark waters of Lake Tahoe. It was late evening on the Fourth of July and thousands of us “woo-hoo”ed and “wow”’ed at the wonder and magic of pyrotechnic art in its glory.
Giant blue hydrangea-like displays were feathered by glistening silver waterfalls; red hearts poofed across shooting stars zipping up from the earth, only to fade and be replaced immediately by yet another exploding marvel. The show was star spangled to the max, to be sure. All super-imposed on a clear starry night sky unimaginably more ancient than the earth itself.
Two days later, while out in the field with a group of trackers engaged in animal track and sign certification, animal tracks mirrored some of the fireworks radiance, with the imprint of tiny toes splashed on mud, a gait’s rhythm punctuating dust, woodpecker holes showering aspen bark or vertical scrapes raining down a tree trunk.
The more we shared curiosity about animal sign, the more we became connected to the place by feeling into the animals who lived there. We also felt more connected to each other. Shared curiosity has a way of doing that with people. Our personal conversations became more disclosing and vulnerable. An intimacy grew. A feeling of freedom to be ourselves with each other because nature was accepting us, and we it - even if we got a question wrong.
At the end of my VIVE! Nature Wanders™, I have a closing ritual which includes asking each person a simple question: “In a word, or short phrase, how might you express your experience today?” A few months ago, one woman replied, “free”.
Hundreds of years ago, in the Northeast part of America, the Haudenosaunee People brought peace among the many tribes which had been at war for hundreds of years before. They called their new form of governance The Great Law of Peace. They finally were free not only of conflict and separation, but, by virtue of the precepts of the new order - of healing, peace, good message and unity - each person’s voice was valued so each person was free to be who they uniquely were. This was the origins of the first full participatory true democracy.
Our Founding Fathers were gifted this form of government by the Haudenosaunee, and the United States of America was born. Before that monumental event, the Colonists were suffering from a separation from freedom because they were relegated to dependence on a monarchy which usurped their self-determination - they were not allowed to be who they were, so how could they belong to where they were?
I am reminded of Wendell Berry’s poem, The Peace of Wild Things. A simple accounting of a scene in nature to which the author feels a deep sense of belonging. Mr. Berry and my VIVE! Nature Wander guest seemed to share a sense of peace, freedom and belonging relating to direct experience with nature.
Independence Day to some folks I know is also referred to as Inter-Dependence Day. An acknowledgement that all things and people are connected, so are accountable to each other for a sense of acceptance, peace, belonging and sharing of resources. A balanced economy of spiritual reciprocity.
I learned a lot about nature that weekend that I didn’t know. Like how violent those cute Ground Squirrels can be. Little furry Godzillas, really. But nature has it all worked out. Nature is a complete system of accepting itself. Every critter is who and what it is without question, so is consequently absolutely part of the whole. You might call it Democracy of the Wild. The ultimate expression of tolerance. Everybody has a voice and contributes equally to the whole.
When you are out in wilder places this Summer, allow the place to accept you for all of who you are. The light and shadows alike. The birds, crawly ones, even imagine those mysterious tracks as looking back at you with a curiosity of you that you may have of them. You are, after all, just as much a part of the Whole Shebang as any other critter (yes, you are a critter, too).
I scored pretty low that weekend on the certification, but still passed. But the sense of camaraderie, peace and freedom to be myself with others scored high within me. I left feeling free. Really free. But hopefully not the freedom of a Ground Squirrel.
PICK OF THE MONTH: Marin Tracking Club facilitator and good friend, Richard Vacha's new book, The Heart of Tracking, essays on the mystical and sensory journey of animal tracking.