I grew up in the country, in a house surrounded by forests and hills. I grew up knowing how to identify different plants and birds, watching vegetables grow in my family’s backyard garden, and being aware of both the beauties and dangers – from rare wildflowers to storms that destroyed crops – present in the more-than-human world.
Because I was an only child and because we lived out of town, I didn’t interact with many children my age outside of school. I had to find my own entertainment, but this was never hard. I loved books and reading, and I used my toys to tell complex and imaginative stories to myself. The land itself entered into my stories, as I filled it with dragons, unicorns, wizards, and other fantastic beings who I met in my books. I could talk to the trees and they would talk back to me. As I grew older, I started writing down some of my stories and ideas.
When I went to university, I became more aware of the nature around me rather than less. What had once been ever-present became, in the city, harder to find, and so I learned to look for it more closely: for the magpies perched on the dumpster, for the flock of geese flying overhead early in the morning as I walked to the computer lab, for the sound of an owl hooting that woke me in the middle of the night. As the months and years passed faster, I became more aware of the cycle of the seasons, and my studies of physics, biology, and ecology revealed more of the patterns embedded in the landscape and universe around me. I walked the hills surrounding the campus, read more than ever, and began writing poetry and fiction again, something that I had mostly given up in high school.
And now, here I am. Sometimes I wonder how my life could have turned out differently – if I had read different books, met different people, or lived in a different place, for example – but I’ll never know that, never know whether those other lives would have been better or worse than the one I’m living now. All I can know is what I have today, this path that has led me here, to the edge of the ordinary and to this blog.
I started this blog partly because I believe that the more-than-human world is essential to the human world, on physical, emotional, spiritual, and creative levels, and that many of us need to change the way we relate to it. I believe also that everything is stories, and that all stories are part of one larger Story. I believe that I have some good stories to tell, and that my voice and my stories are a unique part of that larger Story, because no one else sees the world in the same way that I see it.
Over the coming weeks and months, I’ll be exploring these topics in detail in a series of posts. I will use examples from my own life as illustrations, but please share your own experiences in the comments as we go. You, too, have a unique story to tell, and perhaps by piecing together our separate truths we can begin to arrive at an approximation of some larger Truth. Along with these posts, I will also continue to write my nature observations, seasonal reflections, book reviews, link shares, and any other posts that need to be written. I hope you enjoy the ride.
Next post in this series – Cosmology