Companionship with the Earth

I find myself walking softly on the rich undergrowth beneath the trees, not wanting to crack a twig, to crush or disturb anything in the least — for there is such a sense of stillness and peace that the wrong sort of movement, even one’s very presence, might be felt as an intrusion . . . The beauty of the forest is extraordinary — but “beauty” is too simple a word, for being here is not just an aesthetic experience, but one steeped with mystery, and awe.

The primeval, the sublime, are much better words here — for they indicate realms remote from the moral or the human, realms which force us to gaze into immense vistas of space and time, where the beginnings and originations of all things lie hidden. Now, . . .  it seemed as if my senses were actually enlarging, as if a new sense, a time sense, was opening within me, something which might allow me to appreciate millennia or eons as directly as I had experienced seconds or minutes.

The sense of deep time brings a deep peace with it, a detachment from the timescale, the urgencies, of daily life . . . wandering, above all . . . has given me an intimate feeling of the antiquity of the earth, and the slow, continuous processes by which different forms of life evolve and come into being. Standing here . . .  I feel part of a larger, calmer identity; I feel a profound sense of being at home, a sort of companionship with the earth.

Oliver Sacks–The Island of the Colorblind (1997)

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