If you’re out with a child — especially with a young child — and you remove the shackle of clock time (so you’re wandering, no agenda, no pressing time commitment), the world around you reveals its true extraordinary state. Children will be drawn to all manner of things in the landscape, and will overlay their own bundle of stories and lore — whether it’s characters and lore drawn from books, movies, or anything else they like, or situations they’re puzzling to understand deep within. It’s like that for us grownups too, but we sometimes have to work hard to extract ourselves from our mental chatter to notice the wondrous around us.
In any case, a wander — especially outdoors (but it can be anywhere really), where you disengage from the press of time and commitment is an occasion for discovering that magic is everywhere, and that this magic is a mirror of our deepest natures. We are given enticing glimpses of our soul landscape, as well as the soul landscapes of the kids or other folk we are with.
The kid in you might point out that the magic you glimpse in what you notice in your surroundings is actually a clue to one of your “super-powers”. You could also say that the magic you notice reflects a glimpse of your gifts, your unique way of perceiving the world, a facet of your soul’s purpose revealed, or the jewel of your heart. Choose your language.
Okay, so you have a “soul’s journey” aspect to your wanders. The other aspect is that in a true wander where you open your senses,and let go into the weave of the world, you enter an amazing conversation. You’re not just noticing things (rocks, plants, human-made things) that reflect an aspect of a nature, these things actually speak to your nature.
Suspend your disbelief if disbelief is starting to shout out to you right now. I invite you to engage in this possibility: that the world is alive with its own myriad intelligence (which can be very different from our human style). What if, when you notice something with curiosity, openness, appreciation, and wonder that it notices you?
Even before that moment of noticing: what if you set forth in a state of wonder, curiosity and open senses. Could it be that if you do so, the beings of the world wake up to you? “Alert! Alert! Here’s an awake, open-hearted, curious human!”
What if, when something in your nature resonates particularly with the unique nature of another being, that that other being calls out specifically to you? “Hey! We have something in common! We’re in tune in a certain way.”
What if this being is calling out, inviting you to notice, inviting you into a conversation with it? “You’re pretty interesting. I like what I see you in how you see me. Do you want to play?”
That’s how plants work in offering their best medicine, in my opinion. And I think if you are reading this post this far, you probably recall times when a mountain has called to you, or a cloud, a lake or sea, a mischievous breeze — or particular human-crafted things: a book, a doll or toy, a harp, a home, a _______ [you fill in the blank].
The thing to keep in mind if you are new to this thought, or don’t play in this sandbox very often, is — if you bring the shell, plant, rock, doll, toy home — to continue the conversation. And listen to when its time to let the thing go. When you’re conversation is done, return the being to the earth, or pass it on to another human who will take time to get to know it.
I’ll stop here today, but I want to emphatically state: The world is alive.
Here’s part of a poem I love by a 19th century Welsh bard, that underscores this idea for me:
In lovely harmony the wood has put on its green mantle,
and summer is on its throne, playing its string-music; the willow, whose harp hung silent when it was withered in winter, now gives forth its melody — Hush! Listen! The world is alive.
– Thomas Telynog Evans (1840-1865)
This is what being a magical naturalist is: to open your heart, to walk in wonder, and to view the world with what Annie in Because Of The Red Fox calls “Magic Eyes”.
Go out on a wander! What do you experience when you step into the world with “magic eyes” and an open, wondering heart? Please share your flights of fancy or other thoughts about wanders, the aliveness of the world for you, and more in the comment box below!