In my late 20s, it so happened that I spent an inadvertently enthusiastic amount of time sitting in a garden near my house. My feet have always wandered towards the green but spending large stretches of time in a public garden was different from the wilderness I preferred. I expected the tamed, tightened and human occupied spaces of the urban garden to be rather bereft of animation and variety. It took only a few days of observation to recognise how wrong a presumption it was. Post the morning, when the paths would fill out with men and women in sneakers walking purposefully huffing and puffing through the space, a different kind of day would set in. The large columns of lantana bushes that lined the paths were a huge attraction to butterflies and moths of all forms and shapes. They would waft in what I would interpret as utter bliss, pouring their long proboscis into one flower then another in an enchanting complicated dance through the skies.
Anyone who wants to observe the untameable and the wild up close, knows that it involves a bit of shape-shifting. In order to be acceptable to the wild, a human being must learn to be smaller, take up the least amount of space as if physically re-learning what it means to fit back into the web of an ecosystem. One must learn to quieten, to become still for large tracts of time. And then after much practice, a butterfly will trust enough to waft close and stay by the flower – treating you as its fellow creature that must have reason to belong there. As I slowly learnt to embody this quietness and humility, I couldn’t help but notice how this practice almost immediately began adding new dimensions to my sight. I began spotting snakes and mongoose, caterpillars and ants, the shifts in cycles of the plants I sat amidst. It felt surreal. As if I had been allowed into a parallel vibrant world of technicolour even as the others kept going round the park in monochrome.
I am reminded of this experience through this strange period of the lockdown. Forced into stillness, barred within our homes – we find the wild slowly rearing its head, even as we are for once, quietened and still enough to witness its magic through our windows. Are more of us seeing the technicolour version of the world, the one we where we are not the only one’s occupying it? If yes, it would come at a strategic time in our lives as ahead of the coronavirus crisis looms an even larger one of the climate crisis. At TCC, we dedicate this month of May to the continued exploration of connection and care but with a special focus on understanding what wisdom this pandemic holds for us as a species.
In episode 9, ‘Keeping Quiet’, I explore what we are witnessing and experiencing through this period of the lockdown and what possibilities and insight it might hold for shifting our relationship with the planet. Nomita Khatri, student at Schumacher College and a member of TCC’s Family, in her essay ‘Seeing Our Way to Connection’ writes about how using this moment of the lockdown to deepen our gaze and becoming more attentive to the world offers us myriad gifts. We will continue to curate resources and bring in new voices and ideas for both reflection and action that will attempt to deepen and widen this conversation – so do keep in touch with our social media spaces!
We hope you continue to stay safe even as the lockdowns begin to loosen this month. On this International Labour Day, do spare a thought for the many migrant worker’s who are facing hardships across the country and consider supporting them.