Rewilding the Self

Rediscovering nature and its sentient beings is “rewilding.”  In the mid-1990s, Michael Soule of the University of California, Santa Cruz, proposed the idea that to restore ecosystems one should start from the topside down — reintroduce bears, wolves and otters to a deteriorating system.  Soule’s work was in conservation biology, but is now applied to psychology.

To many people in the field of mental health, a rewilding of the psyche is essential to the “heart’s ease.”  The following article from The New York Times expands on several themes surging in ecology and psychology.  I highly recommend you read this.

Is There an Ecological Unconscious? –

Artwork by Kate MacDowell (Photograph by Dan Kvitka for The New York Times)


Filed under Life in Balance

8 responses to “Rewilding the Self

  1. Anonymous

    A valuable article and something which might explain my sometime sadness over the world. Perhaps we are all suffering to a greater or lesser extent from the loss of wild places, the destruction done to Earth in order to mine her resources and aren’t fully aware of the repercussions and implications…yet.

  2. I think—because I must, for self-preservation purposes—that humans will adapt, because they always have. Overpopulation will continue to burden the earth no matter what the location. A lot of the commenters who wrote in response to this article mention the feeling of displacement when removed from their natural homes, places where nature abounds (or sadly, did once). But I think a NYC native would feel displaced in the woods or desert just as easily.

    Reconciling with your environment is not easy. I grew up in New England, a land of meadows and woodlands and streams and lushness. As a child I pretended I was a fairy or some primitive soul…I would break open purple berries and paint my face, nap in the long grass, traipse along paths in the woods like a wild creature. I watched my beloved woodlands replaced by developments and McMansions. They put the precious stream of my childhood into a concrete tube. I mourn it still.

    I never would have left my homeland if Connecticut had not devolved into a place impossible to survive. So here I am in the desert. It is not such a welcoming place so maybe there is less destruction here—but still, huge new houses are going up all the time. (Who the hell can afford these behemoths, and how much power and water do they suck up to run them? Boohissgrrr to conspicuous consumption!)

    I live with my partner Jimmy in a small house in a crappy neighborhood but it’s home now. Jimmy has health problems so stuff doesn’t get done. But I am forcing myself, rallying myself, to love it here in all its ramshackle glory. If I pine for my woods and my snug, tidy, little Cape with a basement, I will die. To move forward I must embrace my new home and improve it, by planting stuff and making it welcome for indigenous creatures and for myself.

    I have no answers Jack. 100 years ago the earth was more beautiful and natural—but life expectancy was about 50 years old. We have paid a high price for progress. Is the destruction of natural resources the inevitable byproduct of our techno-culture? It doesn’t have to be.

    I am reminded of that bumper sticker “Think Globally, Act Locally.” I think you are doing your part and more by living by your convictions and setting an example for all who come within your realm.

    • I must spend more time replying to your comment. For now, I read in your comment the substance of multiple posts you have — even a book. A fractured world exists. We are one side, McMansions and golf courses on the other.

  3. Wow what an interesting post and read from the times.
    I follow your site but am bad about leaving comments. I subscribe to you through email.
    While I am here I have to catch up on your other post.
    You always write such interesting articles and keeps my brain active which in the last few months I have really needed that.
    Hope the heat is not getting to you to badly
    Thanks for visiting me today

    • Maggie: I was hoping you would read the Times article. Thanks for making a comment on my site. The heat is pretty bad, but we stay indoors. Hope you get to feeling better. I do like your music you put on your blog. Best wishes, Jack.

  4. Kittie Howard

    Thank you, Jack, for an insightful post that gave credibility to what I’ve been feeling. “Heart’s ease”, yes, what a perfect term — when one’s home is under attack — what a perfect description. This is exactly how I feel about the environment around me (and, in the larger sense, the U.S. and larger), that a way of life for critters and humans and flora is being attacked by the greed and ignorance of those who refuse to respect the life I’m living…and others are living. The Times article empowered; I’m going to check this out more. Thank you!!

    • First, Kittie, thank you for all the comments you have composed on my blog today. I feel very fortunate to have you read my work and comment. I do hope my comments on your blog are as welcomed as yours are on mine.

      This is an important article and it addresses so much about our place in nature and the changes humans make to destroy our web. Yet, within the article are pathways to follow that might just save this good earth. I am going back to Bateson’s work since he is prominent in the article.

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