Every Autumn, for the last four years, a red admiral butterfly has landed on me, staying long enough for me to marvel at her delicate beauty; and for me to take a snap! The last time it happened was a dark, cold night in late October 2021. I was cooking what was to be my last supper in the rental house I had lived in for a year, having spent most of my time in the garden. I’d often contemplate the responsibility and the gift of being the temporary guardian of that little patch of earth, enjoying the company of the birds, squirrels, and owls who also called it home. As I was cooking my ‘last supper’, something caught my attention out of the corner of my eye; a butterfly landed on my shoulder. I gave her my hand and she climbed onto my fingers. As I opened the door to the garden to set her free, the bells from the ancient Cornish church started to ring, for the first and only time since I’d lived there. I often stumble across the saying ‘nature is my church’ and the visceral sense of spiritual connection, and of hope and transportation I felt in that moment was confirmation that the earth, and all beings, are where I will always turn to remember my small part in and connection to, the magical, mysterious whole.

I believe the existential internal crisis a vast number of people in the modern industrialized world face, is a mirror to the destruction happening externally. One of the most worrying problems in the world today is the loss of meaning and loss of purpose (Maiteny, 1996). As humans get sicker – with dis-ease of the body and mind, so does the ecosystem of the planet.  The disconnection from the earth modern society expresses – physically, mentally, and spiritually – I believe to be the root cause of this mass sense of loss of meaning and purpose (Maiteny, 1996). Conscious reconnection, I hope is the cure. Instead of living simply, in harmony with the seasons, eating natural food harvested from clean soil, trusting the wisdom of healing plants, as is embodied by Indigenous cultures, ancient teachings, and lost indigenous civilizations – including those of pre-roman Britain – we abuse the earth in the name of progress. Society and modern culture has lost their sense of connection to the ecosystem of the earth, and beyond. Indigenous communities who are still living in harmony with the land live in a universe, in a cosmological order, whereas we, the peoples of the industrial world, no longer live in a universe’(Berry, 1993). Modern man seeks convenience, accumulates, and causes irreversible destruction in the pursuit of consumerism. It is evident that we have lost our way.

We have all witnessed a culture shift towards eco-conscious living, evident by the growing number of B-corp companies, and in the mass branding and marketing carried out by mainstream companies, capitalising on the growing sense of eco-responsibility (yet, often ‘green-washing’ for the sake I profit, still). Discussing this with friend the other day, we couldn’t help but wonder – are we the generation of hypocrites? We know the destruction our choices and lifestyles are causing yet we seem to continue on, pointing the finger of blame at others. I often wonder, will generations to come, look to us and say – you knew what was happening, why didn’t you change your ways? 

As a collective, we first need to wake up and ‘get’ it, then we must integrate and embody that knowing. It seems the integration part – dramatically changing our ways – is what this generation (including myself) struggle with. We never seem to think we are part of the problem – and that likely is the very problem! It would always strike me as ironic when someone would say ‘Oh I traveled to {insert beautiful, tropical island} years ago and it was so unspoiled then, now there are so many tourists it’s awful’ not realising their part in the story, or that they are a tourist that contributed to the loss! I try to make conscious choices but I also know I could do better, much better, and so I have to ask myself ‘why am I not doing better?’. Why are we not doing better?