Our Indigenous Nature Within
This reflection was written high up in Nightcap National Park from a solo bush camp looking over to Mt Warning in Northern NSW.
Some time ago I was sitting beside an expanse of water, being still, and listening. Listening in and listening out (much easier here beyond the reach of the city hum), and I was visited by a family of little wrens just flitting about the foliage, doing their thing. After a while of been gifted by their antics, I observed them searching the bark and leaves for food while constantly conversing with their tinkling tones.
It came to me that they were doing a job, fitting in here, performing a role, being an integral part of Nature, its trees and insects (and me?), while just living their lives. They were Indigenous – an evolving natural part of this natural landscape. I wondered, knowing somewhat intellectually that I am a part of Nature, about my own indigenosity? How did I now fit into Nature? How Indigenous or non-indigenous or exotic or feral, had I and my society’s way of life become?
As I am writing, I have just been buzzed by a squadron of brown fruit doves, their wings whirring and whistling in their own version of sonic boom!
My mind eventually settled on a truth, prefaced by the understanding again that I’m supposed to be a part of Nature, and, governed by her laws both within and without, that I cannot live separate to Her, although it seems that somewhere along the line my ancestors began a process of separation from Nature. I also kneew that I, and the human race (why do they call it ‘race’ ?) were designed to be Indigenous and take our place within Nature, being an integral and harmonious part of a much larger intricate web. Why then did I have this idea that the wrens, the lake, the trees and even to some extent Indigenous Australians have an indigenosity different to mine?
I realised how separated from Nature I and we had become, how intellectual, how scientific, how technological, all devices that had caused a degree of separation, blindness, deafness, numbness from what was surrounding me by the lake. I didn’t know the language that the wrens were speaking or what their calls meant, what they were eating, even what sort of wren they actually were!
With an overwhelming sense of sadness and loss, I decided that I and as many others as possible, needed to take our indigenosity much more seriously if we are to live in sustainable harmony with this planet.
How could I become Indigenous once again? From where I and we are now? How could I moved back toward Nature, both my own true innate Nature and Nature itself?………More silence……..as the wrens had moved on by now, perhaps having left behind the true reason for their visit…….and then, two thoughts.1. I was in charge of perceiving my own inner Nature, and2. Our own Indigenous Australians absolutely knew about the Nature of this land, how to live in harmony with it, and themselves, as an integral and sustainable part. They are world leaders in sustainability with at least 40-60,000 years of responsible custodianship as evidence. I was sure I would find many answers in seeking their wisdom……. and I have, and continue to be awed by both the complexity and simplicity of their culture, spirituality and intimate understanding of the laws of Nature as echoed by the landscapes they once cohabited.
Then the next piece came. If inside me was my own true Nature (I just had to see, feel and listen to it more clearly), and outside me was Nature herself (I just had to see, feel and listen to Her a lot more!) then how did I become so disconnected from these inate guiding forces?
It had to be a part of my intellect or mind. I am still not sure exactly which part, but definitely residing in the egoic mind and its propensity to privilege illusion. I realised that these parts of my mind had heavily influenced its thinking, and that this had been going on culturally for a very long time, perhaps since the dawn of agriculture where we started to manipulate and significantly alter natural landscapes for just our benefit, in unsustainable ways. I started to see that the way that I developed parts of my mind created a heavy reliance on intellect (as opposed to intuition, feelings, etc) and had formed my thinking to “agree to” or filter out my lack of connection to Nature within and without. I could see how we continually override our own bodies wisdom and intellectually set off on a logical path. “I’m tired – but I have to mow the lawn now!”. “I love getting out in Nature, it’s always good when I do – but I never seem to get around to it – too many other responsibilities”.
Indian Head Fraser Island
I realised from a poem by Noel Davis called ‘More of Me to Listen’ from Campfire in the Heart 1994, that I had “Big ears for listening to head talk, and much smaller ears for listening to my feelings, my heart, my gut…. and small ears also for listening to Nature out there…..” Mainly I was always in my head with just my intellect blaring out the incestuous product of my own egoic imaginings. I knew that I had to be more conscious of turning down the head talk and listening to what was natural/inate inside me as well as what was natural outside and around me. I saw (and still experience at times) my mind as a clogged up filter. Clogged up with stuff that didn’t really matter any more, and never really mattered anyway, I just “thought” it did!
I saw how this took up all the “airtime” of my mind and created imbalance, and subsequently choices that did not serve my truth. Choices that led to meaninglessness, resistance, disconnection and pain. These choices became my experience of life and the egoic part of my mind justified them, thus committing my body to a life of much less than 100% of health, joy, contentment, purpose and balance…….. and the expenditure of enormous time, energy and resources in order to find the missing pieces.! I, like a lot of other people, wanted to be whole, to experience joy, and take my true place in this world, being and doing what I was “Originally designed” to do and be, not what society and current logic was suggesting, with its mediocre result!
The next step became obvious. ‘Get out of my head and come to my senses’, all six of them, and go into Nature. Open myself to landscapes that were natural, take part in the real rhythms of Nature and see what I can learn about me as a result. I had always loved going bush, whether it was the beach, Fraser or Stradbroke islands, the mountains or rainforest. It always healed and balanced me, given me joy and adventure, and made me feel at home. Somehow these times in Nature propped me up for another few months in the city at work.
But now was different, I was called to leave home to find home, going into natures classroom to learn about me. To sense, see and hear in Nature, things and non-things that I was attracted to, that called my attention and somehow resonated with deeper parts of me beyond just my mind. I began to know myself through sensing and enjoying what I was innately drawn to in Nature. Listening to birds, noticing patterns, making new friends with places that fed my spirit and saturated my senses with feelings and information that felt so right, it had to already have a place inside me, I had just forgotten!
I learned that I have to re-mind myself (like re-novating a dwelling or re-conditioning an engine). Creating a mind that lets these natural inner and outer parts communicate more readily. Re-mind myself of what things are really important for me, things I can’t live without. Things that would allow me to become a benefactor of my mind, and not a slave. So…… more extended time in Nature, more learning about ‘ this of which I am a part’, finding out about my natural neighbours and listening in on the conversations of insects, birds and rustling leaves. I loved, and still love that part, that intentful journey to find the true self, from the truth reflected around me in Nature. Something that is a lot harder to do in the artificial world, because I guess, we are actually not artificial, although if science has its way, we could head further toward that paradigm.
Over time, I developied the beginnings of ‘a dialogue with Nature’. Some birds, lizards, trees and mossy grotto is seem to speak to me at times. They might reinforce, agree with, “rubber stamp”, an idea I might be having when they called, or would appear at significant times to remind me of me, or them, or both. Sometimes, what I see or feel, draws me into something significant and ancient within, that makes sense of an issue or choice I have been pondering. These times are so beautifully richer than my mind alone could ever have created.
In one such space, sitting under some she-oak trees on Indian head at Fraser Island, I was given one simple thought that not only changed my life, but also the direction of my career. Like an announcer interrupting a TV programme to bring a newsflash, a new thought “pop” into my mind: “Why don’t you bring them up here? Imagine how effective you could be working with them like you’re feeling now!” I smiled broadly and my heart quickened excitedly at the prospect.
I know now, that if that idea was presented to me in my normal “city mode”, I would have very quickly and intellectually discounted it, and cast it aside as “I couldn’t do that because…….”. But up on Fraser it made profound and perfect sense, not only for me, but those I serve.
That thought spawned a life-giving decision and ultimately the Find Yourself in Nature programs. One one simple, enlightning thought that has enabled me to spend even more time with Nature, deepening both my and many clients connection with Natures guiding wisdom, a journey of passion and privilege I am keen to continue.
Story commenced: Somewhere in my Dreaming.
Story bought into consciousness: Enoggera Reservoir 2005.
Story written: Nightcap National Park 2010
Wollumbin From Nightcap NP