I continue to hear people referring to the “return to normal”; references to the “new normal”, and desperate pleas of “getting back to how things were”. There’s a fine line to understanding, I think, what people really mean though. I think we all yearn for our total freedom and to not have to think about the distance and protective measures required for interacting with others. However, to go back exactly to how things were would be a total tragedy. We are exercising more; more conscious of social interaction and wildlife and the environment are both thriving more than they have in tends of years because of the reduced human pollution. Surely we don’t mean to undo all the good we have – all-be-it unintentionally – done?
I predict we will soon see another rise in the need to connect with nature again, as further travel and social restriction sanctions are placed on more of the world due to the rising cases of corona virus; the fallout being a return to an especially isolating disconnection. But also a return to work and whatever individual “normal: looks like because with that will come different stresses and anxieties. And we’ll need an outlet for that.
Just like during lockdown, more of us will experience the frustration, anxiety, tension, and stress that comes as a result of our disconnection with nature. The desperation to be healed – all-be-it a largely subconscious desperation – was well documented in the press: we took to our gardens; embraced the permitted daily exercise; stripped garden centres of seeds and plants, and bought house plants like they were the latest fashion must-have. Many weren’t even aware of why they were doing it, but the primal draw to nature was innate, and helped get us through that lockdown isolation and disconnection from our friends, family, colleagues, and regular day to day routine.
It will happen again, but it’s been happening for years. Centuries, even. The culture of the Native American Indian people is deeply rooted in a respect for the earth, and for the symbiotic relationship with nature and life. You don’t even have to look that far back to see that humans are a victim of their own species’ success. Our advances in societal and technological intelligence drew our attention away from nature and our relationship with it, and instead to our own human-made achievements. And as studies since the 1970s have shown time and time again, to the detriment of our emotional and physical health, and mental wellbeing.
The terminology used in this already stressful viral pandemic: “isolation”; “distancing”; “lockdown” are all negative. The emotional consequences are, too.