Monday, 27 October 2008

Developing the Ecological Self

Perhaps just writing the title to a blog before I have even thought of its contents will encourage me to write in a more thoughtful and inspiring way. Let's see what will happen here...!

I was with a friend a few weeks ago who commented on an apparent duality in my modes of thinking and actions. On the one hand there is the 'me' that wants to go out and do things, be practical, be active, be funny, be extrovert and do as much as possible. On the other, is the more relaxed, calm, thoughtful, quiet and thoughtful 'me' that is keen to find balance and contentment in every day life. Now that I have started to be more philosophical about life I have noticed these two potential extremes and wonder how they can co-exist within me. I may be exaggerating the points, but I feel this duality causes a certain amount of conflict within what I do.

An ecological self must be one that recognises the existence of one's self within a greater picture of interactions with the external environment. The most immediate contact I have with the world outside of my body is with the air that I breath, and then it might be the food I eat, the clothes I wear and the ground upon which I walk. In more tradditional, ancient or less consumer driven cultures the ability to satisfy these basic needs of interactions may be the boundary between life and death. How often in my life have I been in a state of starvation or cold that would be life-threatening? For many of us in our Western society we have forgotten what it means to live life close to the boundaries of our ecological self - where the food, clothes, air and the un-acknowledged natural environment around us comes close enough to us to be seen as both a Saviour and yet the beckoning finger of suffering.

I suppose the frustration I am feeling, as mentioned in my previous blog, is the coming together of my ecological self with the techno-consumerist post-modern self. One seeks balance, peace and belonging; the other seeks action, stimulation from the media, the ability to take hold of all that life has to offer and the need to belong to the world of business for financial security and work.

My ecological self seems to be creating a big pull on me - it is the foundation for my personal development more than anything else (I'm not a great green eco-activist for this cause or that, or deeply engrossed in green politics or business). I am forming the theory but know I often fail in practice, such when I get angry with my daughter or when I struggle with work and stress. But I want to develop something that works for me - it is bl***y hard work, but I believe worth it.

I am 43, and will be 44 in a few months time. It is easy to feel at times that I have lived a sheltered life and have passed by much that could have been challenging and character forming. I often feel I want to start over again, but I think that in an ecological context I have to recognise the place I am in, to be thankful for it, to see my past and future within who I am, but knowing that I can draw upon resources from outside to help me on my journey.

I'm picking up my book on ecopsychology again and continuing to read it. All that I am talking about is really this sort of thing and I wish I could be more verbally eloquent about it. It is a huge subject and one I eagerly devour. There are many people who think and dream of new ways in which we could live more harmoniously with the planet and it doesn't imply we should all go back to living in round houses and pulling out bad teeth with pliers. As the news is now full of companies going out of business, China toy factories closing all over the place and a recession lasting several years, perhaps this is a wake up call for humanity to try and get its house in order. I don't think it will learn though - our ecological selves are being repressed all the time - but you never know, I'm sure it isn't all doom and gloom.

I was just thinking about a man I saw in Hitchin the other day evangelising to passers by with the word 'sin' thrown all over the place; and comparing that to my talking to a girl at work today about my tree experience as mentioned in my previous blog. We were both sharing something profound about our lives that had deep significant meaning. I pray for more inspiring moments like that.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hello Matthew.

I just wanted to say how much I enjoy reading your blog. I often hear in your words a longing that I also feel. (This may be me reading my Self into what you write, so please correct me if I am wrong.) Sometimes I feel that being pulled in the direction of being more thoughtful is a real pain in the arse; I can go round in circles, always thinking but never putting anything into action. I am feeling more and more that it is my responsibilites that hold me back, such as mortgage, bills, being the husband I want to be (and maybe feel that I should be). But then I feel guilty because I am blessed with so many things that people in the world strive their entire lives for. But I can not ignore the pulling at my soul, calling me to live a much more deeper life than I currently do. And by this I mean spiritually, ecologically and socially. A tall order I know. I pray that those who seek will find.
Kind regards