Relationships are one of the most powerful forces on earth. Examples are everywhere; mothers are known to have super-human strength when their child’s life is in danger, farmers’ fight to the death for their homeland, bees notoriously protect their queen, etc. The more actively people build relationships, the more actively they care about the people and things in their lives.
When teaching environmental education on the San Francisco Peaks, the sixth-grade students would sometimes question the importance of learning the names of the wildflowers, the pond creatures, and geologic features. The answer lies in the importance of building relationships. Without a relationship with a species or rock formation, people won’t care about it, learn its life cycle, or notice how it is changes from one year to the next. The stronger the relationship, the more people will care, and the more they will work to protect it.
In spring, it is time to rekindle our relationship with the soil. I love getting my hands and tools in the gardens to investigate the status and evaluate the needs of the soil. Where are the worms, is there organic material, does it need more air? Then the decisions are made of what to plant and where. A review of the previous years’ notes on that plot is always very helpful. The longer a person has an active relationship with a plot of land, the more appropriate care can be given to it.
I attended the HYPE presentative on last March in Winter Park, and one of the themes was on personal relationships and our behaviors. The speaker was discussing how healthy relationships are the key to overall health, whether that be our relationship to exercise, to work, to alcohol, to other people, and anything else in our lives. Being mindful of our relationship with food, for example, can help us take inventory of the current patterns with it, and make educated decisions on what we would like our relationship with food to be.
Engaging in self-care requires an open-minded and honest relationship with ourselves, but leads to a deep and intentional existence. Perhaps the better our relationship with ourselves, the better relationship we can have with others and with our surroundings. Living mindfully, with inquisitive playfulness, improves our ability to understand more of the world and how we fit into it.
Edward Abbey explains this another way: “One final paragraph of advice: do not burn yourselves out. Be as I am – a reluctant enthusiast…a part-time crusader, a half-hearted fanatic. Save the other half of yourselves and your lives for pleasure and adventure. It is not enough to fight for the land; it is even more important to enjoy it. While you can. While it’s still here. So get out there and hunt and fish and mess around with your friends, ramble out yonder and explore the forests, climb the mountains, bag the peaks, run the rivers, breathe deep of that yet sweet and lucid air, sit quietly for a while and contemplate the precious stillness, the lovely, mysterious, and awesome space.”
Robyn Wilson has degrees in International Business, Sustainable Communities, and Bilingual and Multicultural Education. She teaches permaculture design at Colorado Mesa University, and returned to Grand County to manage Grandma Miller’s New Horizons
New Horizons: Sustainability in Action