By Rachel Corby
There is something that has been happening to me throughout my adult life. That something is an increasing feeling of aliveness and wonder. Although it existed strongly within me for every moment of my childhood it had begun to weaken in my teenage years, leaving me bereft, alienated, lonely, confused and depressed. Those feelings are not uncommon at that, or any, age but what was it that had caused them? And what is it that has pushed them aside, replacing them with vigour, joy, resilience and energy?
When I go to a beach, I love to swim in the sea. I wade in until I am thigh deep and then dive under the white lacy froth of the breaking waves. Once submerged it starts happening to me. The salty water caresses my skin and hidden from the eyes of other humans I remove my swimmers fixing them around my wrist so my flesh can meet the ocean with no interruption. The silky salt water cleanses the dust and soil from every fold and crease, it refreshes and revives, taking air from my lungs and delivering sparkle to my eyes. I feel something more than just the sea, I feel the life in the ocean, the ebb and flow, the movement all around and through me. I become part of that as immersed in the ocean's salty embrace I too become ocean and feel the wild sweet pulse of it moving through me as I float, drift and glide on its current.
I don't live by the sea. In fact my home at the edge of a small market town is far from high mountain, deep river and wilderness trail. But I cannot wait for the extraordinary, for my weekend break or my summer vacation, to experience the pulse of this wild universe flowing through me, because I am Gaia and when dislocated, when disconnected, from the life force and energy of the wild I start to die inside. So, I have brought it home. I have opened my eyes to the wildness that surrounds me in every moment and I make a conscious effort to acknowledge the wild, to feed it and allow it to feed me, every single day, no matter where I find myself.
Each morning while my eyes are still sticky with sleep I step outside, barefoot. I spread my feet and toes wide, to hold and embrace the Earth I stand upon. I close my eyes as I feel the pulse of the living Earth enter through the soles of my feet, uncoiling like tendrils up past my ankles, twisting and turning as they climb my legs, reach my core and claim me with deep peace and the feeling of belonging. I tilt my head back and open my eyes. What I see is never the same, the colours, the clouds, the leaves, the quality of light. There may be moisture in the air kissing my face with cool swirling mist, or plump rain drops to wash the sleep away. And I listen; to the birds, to the rustling of leaves, to the insect buzzes. And I take in deep lungfuls of fresh morning air noticing the subtle scents that each new day brings. Each day a new day. Each subtle change as the days turn to weeks and the weeks turn to months a nod to the ever changing nature of life and the constant cycling of life, from fresh new growth, through maturing and shedding, to mulching the old in preparation for the new.
I rent a small plot of land where I grow food. The seeds I plant are cultivated crops, like me they have been domesticated. They need a little pampering and comfort, a little help to grow and fulfill their potential as vibrant beautiful plants. I clear the soil, which I have fed with organic matter and love, to make space for these food plants. But in that space, that clear patch of rich living soil the volunteers start to arrive. The tough resilient ones, the wild ones. So amongst my spinach and carrots there is an ever growing array of wild relatives. They have come to teach me, and I look to them for guidance. They too are edible, but their tough bitter leaves and sweet bright flowers are also deeply medicinal. As I eat them I build myself with some of their toughness and resilience, with some of their wildness.
We are Gaia, we are connected with everything in the living universe, there is no separation. Remembering that, is like remembering to breathe. Once we begin to do it the world opens up and we begin to see the things that have been hidden in plain sight all along. Our living relatives surrounding us, sharing breath with us, feeding us, touching every minute of our existence. Acknowledging every life as sacred, every moment as an exchange, the doors to our own wildness are flung open. We never need feel lonely and lost again. Home is here through our barefoot connection with Earth. That connection remains even in a city park. As we nurture our own wildness, our own sweet piece of Gaia, we begin to feed and nurture the whole of Gaia and we are welcomed back home with open arms