We Are All Just Animals – We Need To Remember That
The animal in me wants to smell the earth, to be intimate with her rhythms, in symbiotic union with all her features..
The animal in me wants to run wild through landscapes of saplings, meadows and mountains.
The animal in me wants to explore the darkness with keen senses.
The animal in me wants to stretch out under the embrace of the moon’s rays and feel the pulsing earth underneath her capable body. Our bodies are creatures. How often we forget this! We learn from an early age to inhabit our rational minds – to be intellectual, to observe, define, manipulate and objectify the things around us.
The things ‘outside’ of us. This rationality is based upon a belief that our minds, and hence ourselves, are separate from the natural world around us. That we merely act on the world; we are not of the world. We walk around with false beliefs that we are somehow superior and outside of all creaturely things; outside of nature. Rooted in the days of French philosopher Descarte, we have been entrenched in the false understanding of dualism – that our world can only be known through a thinking rational mind. And, that we humans are the only beings who are worthy of such a capable mind, thereby exalting us into a superior state of worthiness. This righteous admiration of the rational mind keeps us separate from the majesty of Earth and all her creatures. This same righteousness allows us to continue to mistreat our Earth as a mere resource to be used and manipulated. Yet here we are embraced by bone, blood, muscle and flesh, just like the black-tailed deer that nibbles at the last tender rosebuds outside my window. We are sensing creatures, alerted to our surroundings, just like the hawk that perches poised to descend on any ground movement that gives way to a foraging mouse. Have you noticed when you go out for a walk in nature, that the mind may start to quiet and the senses of your body awaken? Your ears slowly start to pick up the sounds of a multi-layered world of birds, insects, crackling ground twigs and distance rustlings of wind in the trees? That your eyes start adjusting to a landscape that is imbued with a richer set of textures, colors and depths otherwise not noticed within the city-scapes and computer screens of everyday living? I invite you to notice these things. It is within nature, particularly for extended periods of time, that we start uncovering the tap root of our creaturely sensitivities. We start to re-acquaint with the intimacy of nature. We start to re-acquaint with the intimacy of our own senses – sharpening our sight, hearing, feeling, smells and taste of the world around us.
There is an intimate relationship that lives and breathes between creature and nature. It is a well-developed friendship and reciprocity, nurtured over millennia. This is a friendship no different than the companionship that develops between a human and their beloved four-legged canine or feline friends. Any person who has lived the joy of having a pet would not deny that there is an intimate connection and communication that inhabits their relationship. Why would this be any different for any other creature? If we afforded ourselves the same opportunity to get intimately acquainted with the creatures in our natural world, there would be the same connection and communication. Philosopher and ecologist David Abram writes, “Sentience was never our private possession. We live immersed in intelligence, enveloped and informed by a creativity we cannot fathom”. Our Earth and all her creatures are sentient beings – conscious, feeling, and communicating. We are only one expression of her wild imagination and creative expression. We are of the Earth; made of the same elements and molecules as everything else – all creatures; unique in their own composition. Just as we sense the trees around us, they too are sensing us within and among them. Just as we hear the ravens cry, the raven also hears our footsteps and breathing body. If we pay attention, our creaturely wildness is still tuned to the language of our natural world – by the bird’s song, by the moon’s glow, by the cool rain that falls on our bare skin, by the smell of pine and by the taste of wild raspberries fresh picked. This is a world that our creaturely bodies have known intimately for thousands of years. Our cells do not forget their earthly lineage. It is time we embodied our creaturely selves again, and re-friend our Earth. It is time we return to being in right relationship with Earth and all her creatures. .
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