Voice of the Land
A Sense of Place
How does one “feel at home”? What is it that makes us feel like we belong here? I recently re-read a book called “Our Land, Ourselves”, and in it was a story of an immigrant who volunteers in a community garden to find her sense of self in her new world. And I realized this—connecting and investing in the earth—is something more and more of us never have the chance, or take the time, to do.
When a person first starts out in life and finds a place to live, a feeling of “settling in” starts to happen when a plant or a pet arrives. Bringing nature into our homes or creating a garden of a few pots on an apartment balcony can go a long way to alleviate the loneliness we feel inside. Without knowing what’s missing, we yearn for it. Yes, it’s people too, but more than a yearning for your human family, we yearn for our natural family.
Importance of Common Space
So while we can survive with our own little space, whatever we can carve out, whatever plants, windows, cats, etcetera it takes to keep us feeling somewhat whole, we all need more than that. A lot more. Which is why common space matters. On all levels. We share the streets and sidewalks and appreciate communities that install common green areas and seating. And more than that, when things make us crazy, we know we can “head for the hills”, or the creek, or whatever that means for you. This national preserved space is our most precious mental health resource. The fact that we share it with others; humans, plants and animals, should make us respect and care for these spaces.
And Personal Space
We feel we’ve “made it” when we have something to take care of. It feels good to care for something, an infant, a pet, a loved one, and even our yard. While many pretend that they “have to do yard work”. Most who choose to do the yard work within the family secretly can’t wait to escape to their sanctuary. Into our yards we bring nature to ourselves. We get to be creator, healer, and nurturer. We love it so much, we may not even tell others how good it feels.
Invest in the Earth and Feel Connected
Intellectually we love connecting with the thoughts and ideas of others that we read and view on the internet. But emotionally we feel more alienated and alone than ever. So we must connect with other living beings—in person— to feel whole. Take the time to share your city streets and parks with your community. Take the time for “yard work” with lots of breaks to chat with neighbors. And take yourself into quiet places where you can be alone with nature. Sometimes it’s not people we are missing, but nature herself. The peace, the smells, the sounds, the energy makes us feel truly loved and connected.