Michael O’Mara (2018)
Reviewed by Ian Mowll.
This book is a compelling account of the author’s connection with Nature. The author is also honest about her bouts of depression, the difficulties that this brings and her healing journey with Nature as her medicine.
The author says that, as humans, our natural state is to be connected with Nature; we have been hunter gathers for most of our evolutionary past and it’s only recently that we have settled into agricultural communities and even more recently that we have been part of the industrial revolution. The thrill of seeing new edible berries appear, the joy of hearing birds sing, and the warmth we feel when we hear the crackle of a fire, all remind us that we are a part of Nature; we have not forgotten our natural past.
The first half of the book is mainly about the author’s description of, and connection with, Nature. From there, she then starts to recount her episodes of depression and some of the science behind this condition.
The author rightly points out that mental ill-health is rising in our society. It’s not entirely understood why, there are probably multiple causes: our digital age which increases social pressure and isolation, increased stress, changes in diet and our disconnection from Nature. Many times through the book she describes the healing effects of Nature and also says that Nature is not a panacea for all mental ill-health, people respond differently to this remedy. But Nature can be part of a healing journey back to health.
Many years ago, I used to work in mental health and, through that, I learnt that one of the best ways to help someone to recover from a bout of mental ill-health is to welcome them into a loving community; a group that is willing to accept someone and affirm their value. It’s a short jump to see that Nature can also be seen as a welcoming community to anyone who is willing to open their hearts and feel their place in the grand symphony of the living world.
This book is a well written reminder that we have, all around us, a natural remedy to the stresses and strains of our modern society.