We Are: Our Landscape

With so much of our time spent inside of climate and light controlled buildings, we lose our immediate contact with the Earth.  In particular, we lose a sense of how the immediate landscape shapes who we are and how we are in the world.  We are approaching the longest night of the year (or the shortest day, if you like), the Winter Solstice.  That means that most of us will be turning on lights sooner and longer than at other parts of the year. That means that we are losing the opportunity to let the darkness and its shadows shape us, telling us in their own ways to rest, be still, dream.

How long has it been since we walked outside–in our neighborhoods, in a park, in the woods, near water, next to the ocean, along a stream, climbed Stone Mountain (for those in metro Atlanta) or a hill or a mountain?  To the extent that we separate ourselves from the nearby landscape we lose a sense of ourselves as this world shapes us.

How long has it been since you watched the phases of the moon, caught the sun rising or setting, identified constellations of stars in the night sky?  What animal sounds can be heard just outside your house right now, and can you tell how they differ from the sounds six months ago?  Our sense perceptions of light, sound, smell, touch and taste take their cues from the land itself and what She is doing, how She is dancing with the Sun.  We are invited by the Earth to join in that dance.

The dance itself shapes who we are.  Those of us born in hills and mountains, surrounded by trees dance differently than those born in the desserts and flat farm lands.  They dance differently from those born by the sea or those near running water.  The sounds of nature play a music and offer a rhythm that coordinate this dance.

Who are we?  We can start to answer that question by looking out the window.  Better? Turn off the lights.  Walk out the door.  Look.  Listen.  Breathe deeply, and let the dance begin.

Bob Patrick

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