Connection In Daily Life

Continuing the discussion from Do we really need animal products? And how much wild nature do we need on average?:

@Foxhollow
@SharpRock

Thanks to you guys for emphasizing connection. That is of the utmost importance to me, too. In fact it seems to me that you both may be underestimating the extent of human disconnection, and how hard it is for most of us these days to connect, on a real, physical basis, with that “life death rebirth cycle”. Our physical dependence on the systems of civilization which keeps us separated from the real world is based, of course, on ignorance and strongly conditioned habit—but looking deeper, I believe the powerful current that feeds our dependence is FEAR, a deep, ingrained fear that civilized humans have been living according to, and making bigger, for thousands of years.

I have been struggling against that fear, trying to free myself from dependence on (and therefore contribution to) the civilization, to find my place in the real world that I know I am a part of. So far the only subject that I have found real success with is food, which as you guys acknowledge is one of the most important, intimate ways that all of us beings here on Earth are undeniably connected, even though we civilizeds turn that intimacy from love into rape. I decided to find out if I could join in the ecosystem right here, in a land that has been overrun by a city (Every place in the world is some kind of ecosystem, even the badly injured places). And over the past few months I have been repeatedly amazed to find that, by roaming the land, paying close attention, and going with exactly what I find day by day, I can find ample sustenance at least with respect to that one very important subject, food. It has been a wonderful adventure of discovery—Here in this seemingly Godforsaken land where a city continues to do its thing, I have been picking up off the ground acorns, walnuts, three kinds of palm fruits, karee fruits, carob, pecans, figs, sunflower seeds, citrus fruits—and gathering from the plants themselves when they are abundant: purslane, tribulus, iceplant, russian thistle, elm samaras, pyracantha fruits, mustard, sow thistle, prickly lettuce, filaree, lambsquarters, mallow, and various flowers and leaves in lesser quantities. I feel such gratitude to these family members, as you say, Foxhollow, and am experiencing the connection—really, physically—to an extent that I never could access before.Though I personally somehow do not feel like a natural carnivore, at least so far, I can see that you guys must feel that same way about the animals you eat, as long as you are in direct personal contact with them.

Of course I realize that food is just one of the basic aspects of life that has been so horribly distorted by our separation from the world we live in. There remain for me at this time the challenges of finding—outside my little prison of dependency—drinkable water, where to bathe, pee and poo, places to sleep. Then I will finally be joining in the healing that is already going on, as witness every brave little weed, every brilliant little cockroach…

I would very much like to hear if others here are finding it difficult to make the connection, in daily physical life, with the world beyond civilization, and how you are dealing with that.

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Thanks for this! I’m so happy to hear your are foraging all that food in your city! Pretty inspiring! I definitely constantly struggle, or more accurately, have to re-center in, for me, into a type of acknowledgement of the life in everything around me, personally I’m trying to make this my sole direction right now because I feel all else stems from that connection. I am not that hard on myself when it comes to really making decisions. If I want to go to the farmers market and support a family of ranchers or farmers I’m going to do it without feeling bad about te imperfections that I can project into every possible decision I make. Also I have been a very regular traveler the last few years and am just, over the past 2 years, coming into the realization of what Rewilding is for me and how much it is quickly becoming a very real and accurate compass for my life, now I feel it’s pull towards a localizing my patterns of movement and deepening my connection with the home places I have come to love. Animism is my pathway to this connection you speak of and it has been a daily practice of remembrance. Im very curious about our relationship with civilization going forward and what this Fear is you speak of or maybe what the subtleties of it are, I don’t see myself completely un involving myself with it or my human friends and family that are comepletely jntrenched in it, but still finding pathways of connection and healing to the relationships and aspects of how this civilization plays out, especially socially.

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What you say is so close to exactly what I have been going through the last few years. Though I have for a long time felt sure that the way of animism is reality and my inherited belief in some kind of dead-matter world is insane, it is still very hard for me to actually experience that reality. I have gotten a lot of help from David Abram’s two books; he expresses very clearly, in terms that can be understood by a person coming from a civilized background, the differences between those two ways of being in the world, and how we civilizeds have come to our present state of such oblivion as to be doing the horrendous things we do. I am getting better at spotting the lies that I have bought and gradually uncovering my own natural kinship with the rest of this world. I do believe it is because of the slow but steady progress in this that I have been granted such surprising success in finding food. At first it looked hopeless, like, “see those vast stretches of concrete and asphalt, people cutting, digging, poisoning…” ­­But somehow I was led one little step at a time, gradually allowing my pessimistic self to be inspired by how the trees keep on keeping on though so horribly mutilated, how the weeds come up again and again despite the weekly thrashing, how the bugs and birds continue to find ways to make a living in places where I would have thought it impossible.

It is important to me to be doing this in a land that a city has been built on top of. The society I have been participating in all my life is what has caused this to happen; it does not seem right to run to the places that have so far managed to remain relatively healthy (though I have done this, as many of us do, for reassurance when I felt great need for it). For a long time my heroes have been the weeds—they don’t accept that any land can ever be “owned” by the civilization. This world is all one, no part of it is expendable.

What I said about fear—I have often wondered why so many of us civilizeds seem to find it impossible to break out of our physical dependency on the systems of civilization even though it has become so obvious how destructive they are. And what kept occurring to me over and over was fear—that chronic, pervasive sense of just not trusting the world. To put very roughly my own take on this, I am guessing that at some point long ago there was a radical split in the way humans reacted to the dangers inherent in the real world: some saw them in the context of the overall friendliness and goodness of the world that sustained them, and were able to continue learning more about that world, paying attention and finding better and better ways to live in harmonious participation within it; others overreacted to the dangers, forgot about the goodness and sustenance, and turned their attention away from the world. The former developed their ever-increasing knowledge to become the peoples we nowadays refer to as indigenous—meaning, of course, being a healthy part of the land in a particular place. The latter became the rest of us, meaning most humans on Earth today (I was just about to send this reply when I looked at your most recent post and saw that you had said something very similar to this!). As to why so many of the indigenous all over the world, over thousands of years, fell to the violence of the civilizeds, the only thing that makes sense to me is that they were blindsided—they just couldn’t believe that such insanity could exist and were totally unprepared for it.

I have always been wary around other civilized humans (civilized being the only kind I’ve ever met) even while interacting with them at the superficial level. Now I can better understand why: I was a lost soul among lost souls. The thing I am hoping is that, by becoming more and more connected to the greater family of life that you speak of—the other animals, plants, water, rocks—I can come to understand humans too, seeing them (and myself) as the wild animals we really are beneath the masks we wear within the civilization.

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So many deep thoughts here, I’m not really sure where to begin. Let me begin by saying thank you for sharing your ideas, and for elaborating on them so well. You really hit the mark on this fear thing:

Without connection to the environment, we fail to view it as the source of all that meets our needs. When we stop going to the forests for food, we forget the skills necessary to survive there. Then the fear seems justified. And every “advancement” disconnects us further from the world around us, creating a greater divide, and compounding & multiplying the reasons to be afraid. It’s quite an insidious progress trap we’ve dug ourselves into.

And even if we overcome this fear, how much good can come from further exploiting the few remaining “wild” places? The paradox explains why Rewilding is so much more than “running to the bush” & “escaping the civ”. We must commit ourselves to being feral agents of nature, sowing seeds of reason in barren places to make them bloom, & being ready to throw wrenches in the machinations of doomed ideologies, to speak for those who cannot.

We probably couldn’t survive without civilization, but if we work hard to build a stronger generation, perhaps our descendants will know of what Terence McKenna described as “reverse paranoia”, the feeling that all the world exists for our pleasure & discovery. Or at least maybe not blow ourselves up.

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Thank you for this thread, the connection is really important for us to have, it was good to have this brought up.

I have tried learning about things to forage. The urban area is never satisfactory to me for this, with most of what I learn to forage not being here, though I too find citrus fruit growing where I can forage that, along with a few things as purslane, dandelions, and leaves for Mormon tea. The urban area will never be enough for me, I am more anti-civilization with rewilding, and I will prefer the wilder areas, where I can forage more, and have things growing, that I can have more connection that I see is needed too. Others that can be with me there would also be an important connection.

“Not there”? From some of your posts it appears that you are living in southern California. I lived in urban areas in southern California most of my life, and cannot believe that you have not seen any queen palms, canary island palms, fan palms! Not any coast live oaks anywhere around?!?! No mallow and filaree coming up after the first brief rain?!?! It seem to me that only the civilized mindset claims that something is not there! That was the mindset of the Europeans when they came to this continent—from their viewpoint there was nothing here to pay attention to and learn from, just stuff to clear away or convert to their own preconceived purposes.

I am really sounding off here but it just scares me, Frank, to see people going around oblivious to the world around them—to me that is the epitome of disconnection.

I would be glad to know your response to this.

[edit, a little later] I want to modify that last remark by acknowledging that you obviously do sincerely care about animals, and that is a form of connection.

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That passage struck me as so important when I first saw it, but it has been hard to find a way to express my response, as I feel that you have hit upon something many people find too uncomfortable to acknowledge. That is, how severely messed up we are, how deeply we have been damaged by having been born into the civilization. I feel that the desire of many people to leave cities and go to healthier places of beauty and abundance is very much related to squeamishness about admitting how much we ourselves have in common with the cities. The disorder and pain that we witness externally corresponds with what we feel inside. That is why I loved what Foxhollow said about not being hard on himself. The whole stance of pretending to have it all handled, all figured out, even claiming that it is we who are caring for the land instead of the other way around, is 100% civilized attitude. Answers to the urgent state of the world today can only be found by admitting that we need help, and can only get it by making the connection with the greater world, the real world that is always right here, right now.

While we are lucky to have some access to what remains of the specific knowledge that various groups of indigenous people developed, we must remember that that knowledge was directly relevant to the specific (healthy) ecosystems where they lived. I believe that what is really needed is to do our best to emulate their basic attitude of constant, respectful attention to the world around them, which was how they were able to receive that knowledge in the first place. Just as, by that attitude, they were able to stay healthy in the specific lands that they were part of, so by that same attitude we now can find the way to become healthy, together with the injured lands that we are part of.

I had been feeling some anxiety about needing to push the other challenges that I mentioned in the first post on this topic, but now am following Foxhollow’s good example of not being hard on myself. It feels right to just let the food thing incorporate more firmly into my daily life, as I continue to learn more about the rhythms of this land, the yearly cycle of the plants. The sense that is growing from this I would not describe quite the way you say Terence McKenna described his reverse paranoia, but to me it is a very wonderful feeling of belonging, which seems to be the antidote to the disabling fear.

I do try to be connected. I don’t claim I know all edible things growing around where I am. Where I am is in southern California, but it is not coastal area but very urban area further inland. I do have the strong sense that there are other edible things among the vegetation I do see. I did not have a culture I grew up with to know a lot of what is edible around me, that would have been nice. But in recent times I looked up what could be wild edibles when looking at the library. But I generally was looking at real wilderness plants, which are not in the urban area, which is not where I desire to stay anyway, with planning to go out in natural environments. But I do want to know things I can forage here where I am, there are just the few things I know, and would want to know others. I have a new phone just now that I put in an app for plant identification, and plan to use it for that, which is why I chose to get that app, I can learn more that way. The culture that would be good for learning such things is what I am sadly deprived of.

This!!

And this! These (and much else you have been saying) ring so true for me. I believe there are a million aspects that rewilding is reclaiming in my psyche and lifestyle, and I think the attitude you reference is such a helpful reminder of the connection between all life. I think of how when someone you respect is speaking to you, you listen, because you value their perspective and experience, and this is the same attitude held when listening to other than human voices and expressions. These are great friends and very wise teachers as well as extremely funny tricksters and caring listeners, as well as very sharp and strong boundary setters, and we are family,

@Frankprimalanswers

Sorry about the rant—I have a sore spot from hearing so many people equate the actual lands that cities are built on (and the actual materials in the construction, and the entities that live there) with civilization, as though they are no longer a part of the natural world, no longer precious—like they’re just “not there” except for the use of civilization. Maybe that was not a fair interpretation of your own point of view.

I too come from a background of almost total ignorance regarding plants (and almost everything else in the real world). That is probably the case for most humans on Earth today. But cultural knowledge does exist; it has been largely diverted to the uses of civilization, but is still accessible. That phone app sounds like a good idea. As you suggest, it is easier to identify native plants than those in cities. For several years I lived at the northern edge of the L.A. sprawl and did a fair amount of wandering in the adjacent part of the San Gabriel Mountains. When the plants there were flowering I could key them out with a botanical manual of California plants, which was a lot of fun. But in a city by far most of the plants have grown up in “nurseries”, their lineage often from faraway places on other continents. I have run into a lot of frustration trying to identify some of these plants, but it has been quite satisfying when I succeeded, even when (as has been true most of the time) they turned out not to be edible. Just having some idea where they come from, what they’ve been through, helps me feel closer to them.

Good wishes on your hoped-for community in wilderness coming true. I too loved being in those amazingly beautiful places where the misery of civilization was not so in my face. Yet I always felt an ache inside, an emptiness like I was still admiring the beauty from afar even while physically right in the middle of it. Now I am understanding better that that was because my own state of mind was still so civilized that I felt isolated from the world around me wherever I went. Hope to hear sometime about your experience in that respect.

@Foxhollow

Thanks very much for sharing some descriptions of the friends and family you are finding. I hope (and expect!) to come to a place of such clear discernment of the actual personalities of the entities I encounter. I am still at the level of needing to constantly feel into the state of consciousness of even being in the same world with them—then I repeatedly find myself back in the old consciousness as just an observer, thinking about them rather than living with them. Then I try again, and again. I sometimes get very discouraged and depressed, but then it will hit me so clearly that we were never meant to be this way, and I remember that there have been whole communities of humans who trusted every aspect of their lives to the guidance of the world around them, and feel so grateful to those who have been willing to share that basic truth with the rest of us. And despite the difficulty, I have had enough fleeting experiences to know for sure that the ability to communicate clearly in the real world is a natural faculty that we all have.

Looking forward to anything you have to share in the forum as I totally agree with you that all else stems from this connection.