Today is International Day for Biological Diversity. As such, today I choose to write my own ode to our beautiful planet and the gloriously diverse life that she sustains. Without her we wouldn’t be here. She is our mother-ship! She is the mother that loves us unconditionally and keeps on giving to us, no matter how disrespectfully we treat her. She understands that it is just our ignorance that causes us to behave in this way; we are her children and we will remember this and return to her eventually. Then, we will heal her of the wounds we have inflicted upon her sacred body, through a balm of love, sincere apology, unending gratitude and respect.
Everything we are comes from our Earth – when we die we decompose back into the soil from which we came. The soil nourishes plants, which nourish animals, including humans. The cycle completes. Life is endless cycles. This is the wisdom of mother earth. She is life itself.
Throughout my life I have revered nature. When I felt confused or misunderstood as a young child I would lie down in the long grass in our wild, unkempt garden and feel at one with the mini-beasts who crawled over me, the grass tickling my skin, the tree foliage patterning my eyelids and the birds singing. This was home. Here I was understood. Or I would sit by the river as the sun set and as fish jumped, feeling such wonder and magic in these moments.
When I went through a severe depression in 2012 I ‘escaped’ to the other side of the world, New Zealand and, in a strange mix of numbed out passivity and restlessness, I roamed that sacred land, finding myself drawn over and over again to peaceful places in nature, the ocean and wildlife hot-spots – anywhere that biodiversity abounded. It dawned on me eventually that I was seeking out these plants and creatures as my teachers. They were helping to lift me out of this dark place I had fallen into, and were breathing new life into me.
The tumbling liquid melodies of the tui and bell-bird reminded me of joy, the penguins’ comical waddle reminded me to laugh, the primeval ferns told me to keep unfurling towards the light, the glow-worms showed me that even the most humble creature is capable of sublime majesty. And, above all, the dolphins helped me to integrate these lessons I was learning, when I had the privilege of swimming with a large pod of wild dusky dolphins in the ocean just off the town of Kaikoura. During this experience the dolphins seemed to take me under their flipper with genuine interactive play. For the first time in a very long time indeed, pure unbridled joy bubbled up from somewhere deep within me and exploded out of me in spontaneous child-like laughter, all the more hilarious for being underwater. The feeling of wondrous joy lasted for a few hours after we left the dolphins.
And this trajectory of learning from nature has continued on my journey and only deepened in profundity. These days I know that all answers are found in nature – it is our beautiful mirror, reflecting back to us who we are and the nature of existence. A tree can be the mightiest cathedral, a flower a simple reminder of beauty, purity and joy. Birds inspire me to sing my soul-song for no audience, just because it’s who I am. The earth-worms remind me that nothing is wasted, everything is recycled and transmuted back into glorious life.
But, above all, nature and the immense biodiversity of which we are a part, reveal to us our interconnectivity. We cannot exist without each other – we are all part of this amazing earth ecosystem, no part more or less important than another.
On this day, honouring biodiversity, I hope we can remember this simple fact. We’re all in this together. When we harm another aspect of biodiversity, we harm our great mother and we harm ourselves. With our heightened consciousness compared to other species in this realm, our role in this intricate web is a significant one – we have a choice in how to behave, which most other species do not share. What will we do with this choice? In those moments of wonder and peace in nature, I feel hopeful and I touch the earth and feel our mother’s hope too – that we will remember… we will remember.