In the core heart of me, I’ve been a nature-loving girl all of my life. Looking back in time to the early memories of my childhood, I recall the visions of those memories of exploring fields and woods, and my surrounding neighborhood, in the summertime especially. That’s when I would find these curious creatures like tadpoles that dropped their tales and hopped away “a frog,” soft-bodied spotted salamanders in the neighbor’s window well, baby birds fallen from their nest, grass snakes coming down St. John’s hill on the highway upon breaking ground for the church, various insects and spiders in the wild fields between home and Northwood school, caterpillars forming their chrysalises pre-butterfly stage and my making the mistake (once) of trying to assist a hatching monarch butterfly.
Back then, I loved my little flower garden mom encouraged me to plant. Loved noticing each subtle change in the mornings as the plant extended its stems, added new leaves and eventually buds that bloomed into scented flowers attracting all sizes and kinds of bees that drank their sweetness. I was deeply immersed in the natural world around me, and deeply connected. There was something very intimate and special about that connection.
Eventually, those experiences dropped farther and farther away from my memory as I grew and moved on into other things required of me, and I lost that dream world of my early life as a new dream eventually took its place. I think that it is the same for many of us if not most of us.
But now I’m looking at where that new dream came from back then. How it appeared and how it spoke to me. I remember the new dream being hard to manifest. It felt hard as nails. I remember sensing that “I don’t know if this new dream will ever happen for me.” There was an alien element to it like maybe the new dream wasn’t really mine. I think it was something I was led to believe because others had expectations of me, and a hope that I would succeed at this new dream. I tried many years to live a dream that wasn’t mine, and maybe was more of an illusion, and most likely because many others were doing the same. I think it was a belief that many of us “Westerners” get herded into because we think that happiness lies in a six-figure job, a perfect marriage to a significant other, a big dream home with lots of nice things, and a couple of new cars in our big garage . . . that somehow our self value lies in creating this. Then we are deemed successful in our own eyes and the eyes of others.
Looking back at my years of growing and learning, I didn’t have much time to live in the dream world of Nature. I went to school every day as was required of me, and learned things so I might do important things some day. But deep inside of me there was this unspoken longing: “I want to get back to my connecting with the world of nature.” But for a very long time, I lost that deeper connection to that world I left behind because now my time was being spent trying to manifest this new dream. Some call it the American Dream.
Today it is being said that the world is in trouble. I understand this from the many things that I read and watch. Because of what I see and hear, new questions arise in me: “Can we sustain the dream that mankind has been dreaming . . . the American Dream . . . the large home with a two or three-car garage?” Here are some statistics that I found from scholar Mark J. Perry:
“Over the last 42 years, the average new US house has increased in size by more than 1,000 square feet, from an average size of 1,660 square feet in 1973 (earliest year available from the Census Bureau) to 2,687 square feet last year.” Mark J. Perry -Jun 5, 2016 @ http://www.aei.org
Notice that was three years ago.
What I have come to understand from all of my studies in searching for answers to these more recent questions arising in me is this: The American Dream is not sustainable. High consumerism habits are not sustainable. The fossil fuel powered systems we have in place are not sustainable. Our throw-away system is not sustainable, and our resources we draw from the earth are not infinite. We who focus on living the American Dream have broken away from our connection to Nature and believe we are separate from it, and we live the illusion that we can master it. What we really need to master is ourselves and our insatiable American Dream of great success and wealth. We need to return to the intrinsic knowing that lies deep within us that we are a part of Nature and that it is our lifeblood. We need to dream a different dream of a new world where All That Is lives in harmony and balance within a naturally occurring system where diversity flourishes, providing the way for life to continue on our earth.
I’ve decided that I’m returning to those early intimate connections that I left behind, and to become consciously aware of my relationship with the world of Nature again, and to come to know deeply that I am a part of it. I’m going to learn how to connect again, communicate with, honor, respect, and respond to Nature in deeper ways, and allow Nature to show me a new dream for my life . . . a new way. I believe it is a very important step toward unity with All That Is. And for humankind: I believe that this is the first step toward bringing back true harmony and balance within ourselves, and with Nature itself. And, I’ve learned that Nature does assist us by showing us the way if we are willing to slow down, connect, and then perceive the great wisdom that exists all around us within the naturally occurring sustainable systems that have been here all along, and with any part of creation contained within them.
Can we live the change that the world needs? Can I live it? Can we return to a connection with Nature? Am I willing? My answer is “Yes. I’d like to try.” What is yours?
Patty Lynn Kyle ~ photos courtesy of Kathy Lienlokken