Hello loves! We're Billy and Bobby the Badgers. Because of our black and white stripy fur, people sometimes confuse us with skunks - but don't worry, nothing stinky about us! We're actually very clean and tidy and build separate toilet areas in our underground dens. We also regularly change our bedding materials, usually straw and dry leaves, to keep things warm and cosy when we sleep. Most days we live the good and simple life: eat, sleep, play, poop...repeat. During the day we hang out in our dens with the rest of our clan, The Badge-Street Boys (and Girls)! At night we come out to play, sniff and dig, finding tasty earthworms and other creepy-crawlies to munch on - yummy!
While you humans might prefer to eat different things and, for the most part, don't sleep underground, don't forget that together we and all other animal and plant species, are part of the wondrous natural world. As interconnected beings on this earth we are at one, sharing an innate love for nature and life. Simply put: nature, is in our nature!
“We have to recognise that every breath of air we take, every mouthful of food we take comes from the natural world. If we damage the natural world, we damage ourselves. We are one coherent ecosystem. It’s not just a question of beauty, of interest, or wonder. The essential ingredient, the essential part of human life is a healthy planet.”
David Attenborough 2019
Rekindling our inner connection with nature
With as much as 50% of the world's population living in built up cities today, set to rise to 70% by 2050, there has never been a more important time for us to reconnect with the natural world. In recent decades, urbanisation and the increasing dependence on technology have led to a reduction in our everyday contact with nature. We spend most of our waking hours inside buildings and in front of screens be it for work, leisure, or play. All the while "real life", the outdoors and the connection with other living beings passes us by.
While technological devices do have their benefits, relying on them too much can dangerously numb our senses as we become more and more desensitised and unable to detect changes in our environment. The thought-provoking film Stare Into the Lights My Pretties highlights how our screen culture has drastically changed the way we interact with others and experience the world in general. The realisation that on average many of us spend more time staring at a screen than sleeping, should be a big wake up call for all of us.
The feeling of disconnection with nature seems so prevalent all around us, yet we only need to look and listen deep within ourselves, to feel that the current state of the world is not how it is supposed to be. As children we are instinctively fascinated by nature and wildlife. This feeling of empathy towards the earth and other species, which we all hold within us, is defined by Edward O. Wilson as Biophilia, meaning "the urge to affiliate with other forms of life".
So why does this innate feeling tend to leave us or be suppressed as we grow older? What is the source of this feeling of wrongness in the world and how have we become so disconnected with nature? The author and speaker Charles Eisenstein explores this very question. Eisenstein's work, through his website, books and talks, describes how we have become increasingly "discrete separate selves". I am seperate from you, you are separate from me, we are separate from nature. Our political, social, economic, and technological world has been built on this separate self 'illusion'. This view, however, is no longer working and collapsing all around us. A new story, of "interbeing" is emerging, one where we realise that we are all intimately and deeply connected, where all life on earth is alive, respected and viewed as sacred. The mountains, the rivers, the forests, the oceans, the plants, the animals, the soil, the water - are all alive and part of us.
The benefits of connecting with nature
Interaction with nature can have a profound impact on our physical and mental wellbeing. Below are just a few of the many benefits that we have experienced when observing and connecting with nature.
Research by Derby University and the Wildlife Trusts (UK) describe how our health, happiness and wellbeing are positively affected by spending time in nature as part of our daily lives. The health benefits range from reduced blood pressure to lowering the risk of mental health illnesses such as depression, anxiety and schizophrenia. By spending more time outdoors in nature, we can take a moment to reflect and regain perspective, re-balance our energy and bring a sense of calmness back in to our lives. It helps us to recognise that we are not alone, life is abundant everywhere.
Learning from nature
Not only are there numerous health benefits but there are many valuable lessons to be learnt from observing nature. For example, we can learn to slow down and to be patient, to live life one day at a time. We can learn by observing nature's processes and relationships that have evolved over hundreds of millions of years; the energy flows and the recycling of nutrients, the water cycle, the soil and rock formation processes. We can learn from nature's resilience to sudden and dramatic changes by adapting to new conditions and self-regulating. Nature is our ultimate teacher & role model for sustainability.
Nature can also teach us to live as a healthy community. The inspiring short film Intelligent Trees reveals how the forests are thriving with life! It describes the fascinating underground communication networks that exist between tree roots and mycorrhiza (fungi) and how these complex beings depend on each other to survive and thrive.
A deep appreciation of and respect for the natural world and the importance of living in harmony with nature is something which the indigenous people all over the world have known and exemplified for generations. From the Amazon rainforests to the Arctic Circle, they are the "guardians of nature" and can teach us about ways of life that put nature conservation and the sustainable use of natural resources at the centre of our being and doing.
The time to reconnect is now!
It's been known for a while that our current trends of living are unsustainable. The 2018 IPCC report for example states that we are in the midst of the 6th great mass extinction. Whereas in the previous mass extinction events, natural forces were the cause, there's no denying that this time round human activity is to blame. The destruction of nature's "resources" (gifts) has created huge economic wealth for some but it has caused immense suffering to many more and has pushed the earth to the brink of exhaustion. It's time to leave this 'old story' behind and begin the healing process through viewing the world differently, with love and compassion for all living things.
We are part of a unique transition because we have the choice, through every decision we make to benefit nature with more life or more death. If we choose more life, the opportunities for the beauty of life to reappear are everywhere. We can green our cities. Imagine market gardens in urban areas and car-free city centres. We can transform open spaces and gardens into wildlife havens and abundant food ecosystems using the principles of permaculture. We can protect and clean up our oceans and sink much of the carbon in the atmosphere back into the ground by planting billions of trees and rewilding our landscapes. There is so much we can do to restore life all around us. If we give nature a chance, the abundance of life that will return will be miraculous.
"A connection with nature is life-changing and the only negative in this change is that it can make our previous lives appear one-dimensional.” Tristan Gooley, How to Connect with Nature.
Billy & Bobby recommend:
Spend as much time as you can in nature, ideally every day for at least 20 mins. Take some time to be still and simply listen to the sounds around you.
See our Get out and about section for tips on how to become more aware of and learn about the natural world around us.
Watch the short film Intelligent Trees to get a new perspective on these mighty pillars of life.
Witness extraordinary natural wonders, iconic species and wildlife spectacles in David Attenborough's Our Planet series on Netflix.