One Future Post Volume 7: Feeling Natural

Dear One Future Community,

The end of 2023 seemed to weigh heavy on us. As the ongoing genocide tightens its grip, my friends and I are devastated. At times, we retreat far into our safe places. For some of us this means rebuilding, confessing our emptiness, our longing for comfort. Our inability to find it, sometimes. The aching.

I know the world is burning, and some of us have felt pain so sharp it cuts through the hope. Violent and traumatic acts, at any scale, leave in their wake the most malicious of silent disconnection – the separation of self from the spirit world. The amnesia of oneness. When we witness or experience humanity inflicting pain upon itself, it gets hard to hold the belief of togetherness. That you are, in fact, very really, physically, tangibly a part of everything. Whole. It is increasingly challenging to hold this belief close in times of escalated conflict, and ecological disconnection. 

A black and white image of the curator, illesha
inset: illesha

Internal harmony is an essential building block for social justice. To work towards one future, we must be making great journeys of self, to heal our sense of oneness.

My separation from the whole manifested most pointedly as disconnection from nature, If the forests are burning, so is my heart. And I belong to the species that started the fire.

I was probably all of three years old when I decided that saving the planet was of outmost importance. My interest began with tadpoles in puddles, and grew to porpoises in fishing nets, to killer whales in oil spills. My connection to the earth was so deep that my responsibility towards it was undeniable. When I look back, what I find remarkable is how deeply I felt this had something to do with me. That the planet, that life, concerned me, called to me. As I grew into adulthood, ecological depression took a strong hold on my heart. The problem seemed so much larger once I stepped into the vast world. With a waning bank balance, dismal job opportunities, sudden womanness, and declining mental health, I suddenly did not have the energy to reduce my plastic consumption, and the politics of sustainability left me skeptical, angry even. This feeling grew into my mid twenties. I found myself unable to engage with the larger climate narratives, it was too painful to see yet another species near extinction. Why couldn’t the world see it yet? That there is so much beauty and meaning in every breath? How could I show them? Would they ever see? 

This disconnection made it impossible for me to participate in the climate justice movement. I found myself quickly x’ing out of every news channel plastered with melting glaciers and sad polar bears, no longer able to digest the news. The separation between myself and the whole widened consistently. When I moved away from city life at last, towards cleaner air, more trees, and ocean shores, I thought my connection to nature may awaken. But every trip to a waterfall or walk through a field reminded me of neglect. I began to feel… Plastic.

Today, I am amazed to say, my connection to nature is awakening once again, and with it my calling to actively participate in climate justice action. Within my love for the earth, I found a refuge, and a welcome, back to the whole. I was searching outside myself, prescribing forced nature walks and struggling to feel a sense of responsibility. To my surprise, reconnection grew from within me. I began to love the planet again when I began to love myself again.

There are a myriad of interconnected traumas and disconnections that may lead us away from ­feeling natural. For humanity to harm itself is unnatural at its core. So, violence, abuse, neglect, and isolation can leave us finding it more and more difficult to make meaning of natural spaces.

The astounding truth, is that internal harmony is necessary to feel related to the world outside us. Through communities of care and support, we call to the great spirit that brings us together, and brings peace. We can never underestimate how related our personal journeys are to the story of this generation. What is in the one, is in the whole. Healing for all, however difficult, is nonnegotiable. We each have the spiritually given right to be part of the whole. We are alive. Healing brings aliveness.

As I make amends with all the ways I could not love myself in the wake of trauma, I find myself returning to the home within my heart, the trees feel more alive, sea water touches my skin like an old friend, and I laugh madly sometimes with joy to feel this again. I am ready to join those who do the work to heal this planet. I hope for all of us to feel close to the natural world from which we are born, and for us to remember the tangibility of how connected we are, so we can move towards healthier ecosystems.

This is my gentle reminder to you, that in times you feel disconnected from the whole, look inward. Care for yourself, and let others love you. Ask for love, for care, without fear, for your healing is an essential piece in the journey towards harmony for all living beings. Our calling is collective. Resist isolation.

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