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Digital Subscriptions > Psychologies > No. 135 Stop Sibling Rivalry > Coming home to nature

Coming home to nature

In a remote shelter in the wilderness, Jini Reddy finds solace in solitude and peace in the rugged landscape
PHOTOGRAPHS: GETTY IMAGES/ISTOCK; PREVIOUS PAGE, PLAIN PICTURE

Leaving my gear at the bothy, I walk slowly, hugging the gorse- and heather-cloaked hills until my gaze alights upon the sea. My head is jammed with thoughts; its circuitry overloaded. It has been an intense, pressure cooker of a year. Now, I am in the wilds of Exmoor but, for the moment, in body only with my thoughts running amok. But I can feel that sea, billowing blue, quietly working on me.

How long has it been since I have been alone like this, somewhere wild and vivid? Too long. A yearning to connect with nature in the old ways of indigenous cultures – people who do not fear solitude, because they see themselves as part of nature – drives me to seek out time alone in the wild. When I am stripped of company and creature comforts, and the din in my head is quelled, there are fleeting moments when a kind of grace descends, and the edges blur between myself and nature ‘out there’. Nothing nourishes the soul quite so sweetly. Getting there though, crossing the threshold, settling into a sustained period of alone time in the wild is an initiation. It can involve discomfort, disorientation, boredom, doubt and fear. That last one is hard to outrun and, as the sun begins to sink behind the hills, my fear of the night resurfaces. The bothy that is my shelter is remote. Behind it is a tangle of growth: trees twisted by the wind, hawthorn and holly and an abundance of rowan with bright red berries. To the Druids and Celts, the rowan tree was sacred, a symbol of protection, and it seems fitting that I’m in a grove of them. Birdsong ripples around me, as does the sea ahead, seamlessly meeting the horizon. There is not a soul about.

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Psychologies December 2016 - Stop Sibling Rivalry
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