Embracing Gaia Two

Embracing Gaia Two

Here is the second of the videos in the series. The theme of this video is  “staying in touch” and avoiding “taking nature for granted”. Immediately below this video is the utube link, mentioned in the video, to Andy Fisher’s short introduction to “Radical Ecopsychology”. The final few minutes of this video are less interesting as they relate to “Transition Towns” and neither I nor, as he acknowledges, Andy Fisher know very much about this. I also include here the text of the poem “On Being Lost” and a some references.

On Being Lost

“This is the faith that guides my daily routines and daring adventures among others. It is an open-ended faith, a path, and not a place of refuge.”  (http://footnotes2plato.com/2011/03/15/meditations-on-the-spirit-of-intrahuman-dialogue/)

“caminante, no hay camino,
se hace camino al andar.”  (Antonio Machado (1879-1939): Proverbios Y Cantares XX1X.)

A hard climb up the rise,
Even with this height the land still boggy,
Clumps of last summer’s grass
Throwing us off the breath’s balanced pace
And now my eyes scan the saddle’s brow
For the map’s record of a track.
But find no correspondence,
Just rock, as the land falls away
Rough and savage to the conifers below.

We recheck the dark, dot-dash markings
That cross the contour’s metric grade,
Before, discouraged, we decide
To take the plunge, down,
Guided only by the steep decline.

We slip and slide on lichened surfaces,
To reach the unbroken line of the wood.
Then struggle through the dead lower branches
Ripping at our packs,
Resisting all progress
Toward the ridiculous idea of a road
And a parked car.

A watery precipice of slippery root and rock
Into the resinous bog.
And all faith in my navigation gone:
“We’re lost aren’t we?”
(He’d waken Jesus now if he were in the boat)
Determinedly, I say: “We’re not!”

I think I know the general topography
Of this wooded valley well enough,
Though, yes, I haven’t got the track,
There is no deer trail and sheep
(To whom I am disparagingly likened)
Are not good wood folk.

Yet in spite of our spiralling,
Through this wet-wood system,
Stymied by root and rock,
I know it will bottom out.
At its root core there has to be
A “drift” a “vein” to take the flow
Of all this wet life and spawn,
Back to our beginnings.

The river is called “Bunowen” .

And it sparkles,
In the starlight of the breaking sun,
Clear, gentle now the snows have gone,
Wary of unsettling chatter, loud talk,
So we are respectful,
Fall quiet,
Awed at its presence here.

We watch as its current curves,
Around the shingled bank of its bend
To find the fall it needs to run
To the glacier’s gouged-outness
And the sea.

The banks are still the conifer’s zone,
Pools of hidden bog,
Frogspawn just showing tails
You’d hardly want to walk upon.
So we walk in the stream
Hop, lightly as we can,
To exposed shingled curve,
Jump from rock to unstable rock,
Water squelching in our boots.

With all this water-leaping I lose the map,
Out the open pocket of my pack,
It floats down stream; I let it go.
Unsalvageable emblem of loss.
Brendan and Magellan,
The great tradition of cartographers.
But the river knows the way
And the map has proved
An unreliable companion.

We come upon the bridge suddenly;
It leads us back to the road,
And the old car waiting.
The saved cold melon from our lunch pack,
Running down our chins,
And home; the way we know.


In a dissenting judgement an American Supreme Court Judge described a river as follows:

“The river, for example, is the living symbol of all the life it sustains or nourishes—fish, aquatic insects, water ouzels, otter, fisher, deer, elk, bear, and all other animals, including man, who are dependent on it or who enjoy it for its sight, its sound, or its life. The river as plaintiff speaks for the ecological unit of life that is part of it. Those people who have a meaningful relation to that body of water—whether it be a fisherman, a canoeist, a zoologist, or a logger—must be able to speak for the values which the river represents and which are threatened with destruction.”
Justice William O. Douglas (1974)

“Bun” is Irish for “bottom” as in the bottom of a valley. “Bunowen” is a small river flowing into Killary Harbour, a fiord, in County Galway, Ireland.


Fisher, Andy. “Radical Ecopsychology: Psychology in the Service of Life” Albany: State University of New York Press, 2013.


4 thoughts on “Embracing Gaia Two

  1. This film touches so much on my own work in performance training; that somehow by seeing what is, fully, you see and experience more profundly.This happens when you actually do get lost because you somehow are set adrift from the familiar and it forces you to see things afresh. Great.


  2. Getting lost as progress to enlightenment has never before occurred to me. Yet first comes terror, as you aptly state, then the ingenuity that allows one to find the path to one’s ultimate destination. There is, along with relief at all of nature’s clues, a sense of triumph, of having achieved something primal–something, indeed that one didn’t know s/he knew.


  3. Thank you Marcia …yes there is the teacher’s wisdom in that too…we had a philosophy lecturer when I was an undergraduate who gave us a seminar on Plato’s “Meno”: the theme was that the boy in the dialogue had to be confused and lost (by Socrates) before he could be brought to see the solution to the problem of diagonal lines bisecting a square! Something, as you say, he didn’t know he knew.


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