Tag Archive: nature

Nature = Joy



On Being last week interviewed Michael McCarthy, author of The Moth Snowstorm: Nature and Joy.

The book is about our human connection with Nature, and how essential that connection is. The title refers to two things he’s witnessed.  He remembered as a child riding in a car at night and watching the moths that were attracted to the headlights.  They were so thick they were referred to as a Moth Snowstorm.  That no longer happens, because there are too few months.

The other thing is how Nature brought back his sense of joy after his mother was taken away to a mental hospital when he was 7.  He remembered feeling nothing. Later he understood it was because he was so upset about her departure that he cut himself off from his feelings.  It wasn’t until he was sent to his grandmother’s in the country that he began to feel again: it was on a day when he decided to run across the road; beside the road was a large bush filled with butterflies. He was momentarily transfixed by their beauty. This lead to his re-introduction to feeling, connection, and joy.

It is true that Nature is thinning. There are accounts of this all over the world. It’s been noticed and documented in national parks along the West coast of North America. In Germany, 63 nature reserves were studied, starting in 1963 when the Berlin Wall was torn down. Today, the numbers of flying insects in these parks has reduced by 76%.

Max Nichollson, a pioneer in Nature preservation, had an interest in house sparrows as a child. In 1925, he and his brother counted all the sparrows in Kensington Gardens: they counted 2603 sparrows. 75 years later, he counted only 8. His theory is that there may come a point where a colony would commit a kind of collective suicide. He was referring to what is known as the Allee effect, which hypothesizes that declines in socially breeding-species eventually becomes self-reinforcing.

Humans are part of Nature. We are all part of the evolution of the Earth. For 50,000 generations, we were part of the wildlife – just another species. It’s only the last 50 generations that we’ve gradually separated ourselves from Nature. But the truth is: we’re still a part of Nature, even if we chose to ignore this truth.

Nature is where we take our connections and metaphors from; it’s where science exists.

And science is beginning to learn that re-connecting with Nature positively impacts us physically, emotionally, and mentally. And, I would add, spiritually. It calms us and feeds our spirits.  It brings us significant moments of joy.

You might have, as a child, had your own special place in the woods, back yard, or nearby park. Somewhere outdoors where you could go and be alone with Nature; a place where you felt safe to simply be, to regenerate. Or you might have discovered that later as an adult.

I have such a place. I visit it every week, and it does bring me joy, refuelling me for the next 7 days.

If you don’t yet have such a place to go to, make this your next goal. Then spend some time, every week, replenishing your joy.


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Maryanne Nicholls is a Registered Psychotherapist.  To find out more, gain access to her weekly newsletter, meditations and programmes, sign up at www.thejoyofliving.co .

We belong to the World

The world doesn’t belong to you. You belong to the world. -Indigenous saying

I came across this quote a day after hearing of another dispute between different groups of people with different agendas. The dispute involved moving into a part of a national park and mining it.  This would mean less room for the animals already there, and a probable loss of regional flora.  Even more than this, it all rests on the assumption that we humans own that land. That the land is there for our benefit, and all other life must accommodate this.

As we take over more land, encroaching on more wild habitat, there are increasing clashes between people and other animals in the region.  When I was a child, I was taught that the animal had to pay for any of these clashes.  As an adult, I know better.

There are an estimated 7.5 billion people on Earth today.  That’s really impossible to fathom.  Even if we try to come up with a figure for available land it makes little sense, unless we assume that no other plant or animal has needs that don’t include us.  Yet, it’s well known that animals avoid people because we are so dangerous. Most animals couldn’t live in close proximity to us.

So what’s the answer? The answer has to include all life, along with the recognition that we as human beings belong to the world, and not the reverse.  That we bear responsibility for the welfare of the world and all Nature. With this in mind, I believe it’s entirely possible to develop ways of living that bring harmony instead of contention.  We can all take less space and be more mindful of how we live. We can become familiar with the flora and fauna in our area, along with their needs, in order to accommodate those needs in anything we do.

One step at a time, we can begin to educate ourselves and contribute to the welfare of our planet.

***This newsletter is in three parts: the first part is my contribution; the second is a video I’ve found that relates to the topic in part 1; the third is a quote. I hope you enjoy the richness this brings to the topic of the week with all three parts.

Nature is Speaking

Quote of the Week
A human being is a part of the whole called by us universe, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feeling as something separated from the rest, a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty. ― Albert Einstein

At times we need more  – we know the logic, know what to do. And yet something is still blocking us. I offer both one-on-one consultations and coaching packages.  For more information, visit my website www.thejoyofliving.co/services-and-programs or contact me directly at maryanne@thejoyofliving.co