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  • Writer's pictureMegan Willoughby

What if.

“We patronise the animals for their incompleteness, for their tragic fate of having taken form so far below ourselves. And therein we err, and greatly err. For the animals shall not be measured by man. In a world older and more complete than ours, they are more finished and complete, gifted with extensions of the senses we have lost or never attained, living by voices we shall never hear”
-Henry Beston, The Outer-most House, 1928.

Benji shall not be measured by Man

July here has felt like full on summer madness. I can’t deny the many points at which I have felt overwhelmed in the cascades of energy which it has bought. We had a new calf appear on a Wednesday, Lost two chickens in the same week, deer broke into the vegetable gardens, the carrot crescendo continued followed by 5am scything stints and much, much more. I have felt full, waiting on the tips of my toes as life’s cycles whirr around our heads, just like the swarms of bugs that inhabit the woods with us these days. Life is everywhere.

I have found calm in my evening strolls back to my house through the trees. Above all that is going on the branch-waves break overhead, whispering on the precipice of here and there. Sometimes they have encouraged me to reminisce on the time I spent in Borneo 6 years ago. It’s the smell of sweating bark that takes me there. I have polarised feelings towards that trip but it was a fundamental pillar in my self realisation of a deep yearning for wildness and community.

Thinking about a particular community I stayed with during this time and what I could bring of its influence to my life now, I was struck by the sense of presence I felt in the people I had met there. They seemed much less ‘what now?’, and as a result I remember my time there being much more inclined to be that way. Tuesday was a bit like that here this week. Greg and I were gardening in the village and throughout the day had various interactions with other locals that held a kind of magic; we were hosed down by a gardener as we biked up and down the road in the searing heat, heard stories from a local builder’s dad about their long ancestry of rebels and not to forget the fellow who climbed our hill the previous day to gift us his old guitar. Perhaps they sound ordinary, but they had the joyful energy of a fleeting encounter within a shared sphere that could be easily missed by distraction.

The harder sides of summer overwhelm seem to have surfaced mostly when our structures of living and working the land have felt like they’re preventing this presence… pulling. This demand of upkeep withholds much necessity but as I watch over our, now 4, cows as they roam around the pre-planned hay field (that we just couldn’t quite keep on top of) something changes for me. Seeing Daisy’s square stature ripple through gaps in rusty doc-shrubs and stumbling across the new calf curled up the shade of a grassy knoll, the field which once looked like looming incompetence now withholds an exciting invitation. I do not know if a cow really does enjoy an overgrown labyrinth more than managed pasture, but I would like to find out. The way they move through the space looks to me like an interaction full of encounter and I know when I flash back to Borneo, it is because the space in which I am moving is moving too; life is reverberating.

So I suppose my answer, which is another question, is how do we care for that which we do not know? We can start by listening, watching and waiting. It is too easy to ‘other’ the world but by spending more time seeing, our doing could feel more synced with the ebbs and flows. Watching them crash over, and pull us back to a grounding, a standing where we move away from personification and anthropomorphism, one in which we listen to the waves.

When I think about how much I have learnt at Tinkers Bubble already it is abundant. What has been educated into me is not my ‘prescribed learning style’ but an awareness of care. For when we let ourselves really care, especially for those things/ beings that we consider outside of our identity, we are then open to so much more of the world. I certainly do not feel ‘on top of the world’ here, but I do not want to either, more so it feels like we are in an underworld where we dwell within the tides.

“From the urgent way that lovers want each other to the seeker's search for truth, all moving is the mover. Every pull draws us to the ocean”

What if?

What if we weren’t fenced in?

What if we were fed by what we met

And trusted the nourishment of where we sat?

What if destruction is the wrong word

And we’ve been saying it wrong, all this time gone?

And what if a dead badger,

Eyes pickled, side’s chewn and insides askew,

Were as beautiful to us as a rose?

Or more beautiful in fact,

Than a plant that’s had its limbs cut back.

What if we weren’t trained or pruned?

And what if we knew that the trees fall

With a sound so loud, nothing cares if we saw?

What if every rat shit, boggy ditch, rotten gate and dead vole switched

Our minds into the prolific

Into a courting of wild that could almost make you sick.

What if we really felt the energy erupting from every stick?

Well it would be hard to get from A to B,

If we really knew how much it could be.

So what if now we really try to see?

Perhaps we would lose touch with our ideas of me.

And if we open to the cacophony

We may slash and free the melancholy,

To forget what now and embrace what if,

Think of the world in which we could co-exist.

Meg x

Encountering the Greg

Encountering the Real

Life is constantly offering itself to us in moments of vividenss; moments that ask more of us as we engage with the world.


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