A Simple Encounter
These in turn have attracted species of birds, mammals and insects whom continue making the landscape ever more diverse.
In the more residential area where I live- where we have many street trees, the typical squirrel and some weeds that dare grow in the concrete sidewalks- most greenery is found in people’s backyards and in a couple of big parks a half-hour walk away. Any other big chunks of ‘nature’ are a car’s drive away at least an hour North, East or West.
This is why I was more than happy with an encounter I had on the way to the gym, which I am about to share with you.
This encounter put me in a place where I questioned my own belonging to the human species: it challenged me to explore the fuzzy divide between ‘nature’ and ‘culture.’
This encounter made me feel happy because it placed me at the exact juncture where these constructed boundaries meet. This encounter was a simple one, and one that is repeated many times a day in urban areas small and large.
What it awoke in me was the wish to tell the human-walker that it was not only an unnecessary apology but also -and most importantly- I wanted to thank the dog for recognizing my 'animality' and in it, my aliveness.
It is not always easy to experience the nature/culture divide in our bodies. The categorization into species is really a conceptual habit- a behavioral code- and one I feel needs debating and expansion. The more we think about humans as separate from nature, the more we perpetuate the nature/culture divide and distance ourselves from being in the world as collaborators, instead of as outsiders.
Healing is attained as an individual's practice develops into an evolving, sustained relationship with the Natural.
Being immersed in nature for three-hour periods while focusing on grounding, expanding, releasing, receiving, opening and giving, (as in the Forest Therapy practice taught by the Association of Nature and Forest Therapy), is a practice which re-establishes a sense of who we are in relationship with the nature that surrounds us. Animals, rocks, rivers, plants, trees, soil, wind, sun, mountains and lakes are all elements that come to meet a forest-walker as soon as they become aware of the otherness within themselves.
Becoming aware of this otherness within and of the relationships that give us shape and sustenance, is humbling.
I felt humbled when I encountered this dog and recognized my life in his/hers. We were distinct biped and quadruped Beings and we greeted one another one morning in a cold and distant city far Northeast of the United States.
On the contrary, it showed me how I can still be attentive to the cues of the natural within the city which in turn alters me to recognize my own animality.
I will never know what the dog sensed from me, but I do know it was a wagging-inducing sense and it seemed to greet me and wish me a good day.
Just as any good neighbor would do.
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of Forest Therapy Guides to see if there is one in your area to lead you or a group on a walk.