Friday, 9 September 2016

The Surge in Nature Writing: Reconnecting Body and Soul

In her exploration of the 2016 Wainwright Prize for nature writing for The Guardian, Alison Flood noted that more and more people are turning to this genre as 'a balm for the woes of modern life'. The article explains how the genre has evolved and subdivided and reached a popular new sub-genre, in which nature writing is used as a tool for reflection and deep personal healing. Despite a shortlist containing nature writing in a variety of styles, the judges unanimously voted for The Outrun to win, in which author Amy Liptrot returns to her home in Orkney in order to recover after a traumatising time living in London.

Dame Fiona Reynolds - chair of judges - said of the books: “[They show us that] there’s more to life than the economy, or foreign policy – these writers are articulating beautifully the ways in which the human spirit needs to connect with the world around us, and to respect the world around us.”

The Surge in Nature Writing | A.L. Loveday | 2016

Are we collectively beginning to remember something buried deep within us? Times are changing, souls are stirring, beliefs are shifting; and these books, this award, is the most mainstream recognition of this that I have come across.

As humans, we were never meant to be at war with Nature, as if She were an enemy to conquer. And yet this is exactly what we have done; we have denied that we are a part of Her, out of fear for Her power, unpredictability and for Her destructive potential. How ironic that in the process of trying to suppress and tame these qualities in our outer world we have exaggerated them within ourselves. How ironic that in trying to create outward order we have thrown our souls into chaos. For centuries we have systematically severed an integral part of ourselves, and gradually we are opening our eyes to the need to draw it back together.

The Surge in Nature Writing | A.L. Loveday | 2016

The journey contained in the pages of these types of books is a holistic one, where the mind, spirit and body are healed by reuniting them again. I am well aware that at this point there is a temptation to roll your eyes and think of those Instagram posts of slim white women on a yoga calendar and juice detox - and I believe that there is a place for that type of healing journey, it is totally valid, but also that this branding (yes, we are self-branding our lives here on social media!) of the journey does not resonate with a vast majority of us, our bodies, our experiences, and we need to see it mirrored in different ways in order for it to strike that all important chord.

And yet most of us will have felt that deep sense of peace after a day in the garden or allotment, digging or planting, hands at work in the earth. Or that inner smile when we've treated our bodies right, by feeding it nutritious food or simply by allowing it to relax and not pushing it too hard. Whether in a book jacket, an Instagram post, or a bowl of porridge instead of bacon for breakfast, we are exploring this reconnection. The trick now, as we hear the call and the pull from a variety of places both in the outer world and from little nagging inner parts, is to listen and act.

The Surge in Nature Writing | A.L. Loveday | 2016

I'm a Reiki healer, and I could talk your ear off about energy layers and the interconnectedness of everything. I'm a reader and writer and I could bang on and on about these books and why you should read them. But above and beyond everything I say or believe I am, I am a human being, and you are too, and so I know that I don't need to say anything else. Because I know that if you choose to take some time to go into the wild, into Nature - and I mean really do it, not just look at it through a car window - and you get your clothes a bit muddy or your skin a bit scratched and your hair knotted in the wind and you inhale won't need to read any books or any blog posts to understand exactly what they are saying and understand the inherent truth beyond the words.

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