-Nature is not a place to visit. It is home.
When I was a kid, I used to spend a lot of time helping my grand-mother in her immense garden; planting seeds, watering flowers, picking up mushrooms. I would also feed the ducks and the hens, gather the laid eggs in the morning, and pretend to clean the barn.
In her garden, there was an oak tree. I was often the only kid at her house, so I would sit down in the garden and spend hours talking to that tree, imagining it was a human being. For a long time, that tree was my best friend.
Growing up, I lost touch with nature and I did not even enjoy leaving my busy city to spend time in the countryside. I could feel that something was missing in my life, but I never really took the time to connect the dots.
I recently had the chance to take part in a Bio-empathy course, i.e. 4 days away from the chaotic city I was living in (Nairobi), to learn about Nature and how it can inspire innovations. When I learnt about this course, I was so excited I could not stop jumping (this would make perfect sense if you knew me). It was exactly what I needed. When I shared my excitement with my colleagues at work, their reactions were far less enthusiastic and way more cynical. They were only interested in knowing whether smoking pot and solving existential dilemmas about the human condition were part of the agenda.
Well, after this retreat I can tell they were not completely far off. After spending these four days in nature, I was truly in another dimension. There was no pot, but a lot of emotions, and I was definitely feeling high. So high that it was incredibly difficult for me to come back to reality. This course transformed my life in ways I could have never imagined.
These four days were about reconciling with Nature. They were about observing our environment, taking the time to notice our surroundings. They were about understanding that nature is not an entity separate from us; we are Nature. In a nutshell, they were about appreciating Nature as a model and a teacher.
Although I initially joined this trip to learn more about applying nature’s principles to business problems, it quickly became very clear that this trip was gonna have a deeper purpose; reconnecting with myself.
Through a wild wisdom activity, I reconnected with my 10-year-old lover-of-the-trees self and had a conversation with an acacia tree, hoping to find clarity on a professional issue I had at the time. Before you think I was really high, the reality is that by ‘’talking to a tree’’, we are, in fact, tapping into our own wisdom. For almost an hour, I reflected on a question I knew the answer too well. Or so I thought. Without going into much detail, my issue revolved around something I was so sure I needed to leave behind. I nevertheless decided to play the game. I reflected on what the tree standing in front of me would do in my situation. The answer was completely different from what I thought, yet it made sense to my heart.
I looked at the acacia tree and I could see that it was damaged, probably hurt, but it was still standing tall. I could imagine that even when the wind hits it hard, the tree bends, may lose a few branches, but it does not break. I could relate to that. When life gets tough, I lose balance. I may even fall. But I always get up.
I also realized that great things take time. Growing a tree takes time. Great love takes patience. I should not give up just yet. Be it in my professional and sentimental life. I was happy that I unexpectedly killed two birds with one stone, and solved more than one issue just by having a little chat with my new friend the tree.
We also had the chance to do a Solo for three hours in nature at dawn; No talking, no sleeping, no phones allowed. Just sitting still all by ourselves. It was a real blessing (in disguise, I will admit). And a luxury. How often in our busy and often chaotic lives do we have the opportunity to just be? I did not set an intention for this activity. I just wanted to take it all in; the emotions, the beauty, the peace.
I noticed the ducks around me, the different shapes of the trees, the different colors of the sky as the sun was slowly setting. I touched some leaves and could feel the different textures. I smelt the air. I could hear the birds singing. I felt like I was a new born baby opening my eyes for the first time. I could see trees of different shapes, different colors, cohabiting in the same space, despite all of their differences. Nature does not care about differences, but instead, embraces them. I don’t know if it was the lack of sleep or if I truly was inspired by this unusual experience, but I started thinking about how us human beings could learn from this when we deal with difference and singularity, and how we could apply this learning in our different communities.
I feel incredibly blessed to have had this space and time to reflect. A lot of thoughts came up that would then impact both my personal and professional lives. I could feel that it was the beginning of something new, and that big changes were on their way.
Change can be daunting and very uncomfortable; I know a thing or two about that. It can trigger doubts, challenges, fears. But when I look at Nature, everything changes all the time, and it’s all ok. It’s more than ok, actually. Nature does not look backward, it moves forward. It is resilient. Winter can be tough, but it is a passage oblige for Spring and Summer. It is all a cycle.
And despite the doubts and fears I may have today, I know with confidence that Tomorrow, I will blossom.
On the Side : Hindi Zahra – La Luna