Emma is now in quarantine in Brighton, and I’m on my misty, slug-mauled mountain in northern Spain. In this episode, deep in the heart of a fairly tumultuous 2020, we discuss losing our way, structural collapse and change. We talk about why it’s vital to get lost, the tension between knowing and unknowing, right and wrong. With nature as our inspiration, Emma and I mutually create a few hypotheses. Is this the end of morality or duality?
The clouds are untethered now. They rove the sierra tops in emancipated tribes. Some drift as lightly as cirrus angels, others are potions on the boil. The sky is alive. Yet as I wander away from the track and into the oak copse, a sickness leaks from somewhere inside. Or is it outside? Am I lost? Are we?
Best walk it off.
Everything looks familiar enough; The brambles tugging at my ankles, the hilltop pastures splashed fulvous with cows, the ravines and mountain top passes. But as I gaze up at the broken-glass peaks, I sense I’ve been cut terribly loose. Corridors of afternoon sunlight open and close, and I know I’m tumbling. Or floating. Free.
The world has fallen away, and the weight of my liberation is troubling. So I find an oak, twisted, lichen-spattered, and sit beneath her, knowing only that I don’t know at all what I’m doing. Struggling to find a pattern in the endless tangle of green.
Nothing happens. The woodland grinds on its roots, waiting for the daffodils to push through. The gates of time creak apart. We are outside them. Watching. Waiting. Then the sun shifts. Just enough. And I spot it. A muddy, rock-impeded trail up and out of here. It wends its way through forest and mire stretching like a hand groping for a solid ledge.
“Ah there you are!” The oaks mutter at my back. The wind rushes up in agreement.
In minutes I emerge somewhere else. New pathways fan out from my standpoint. New moorings. I’m at the centre of another star.
Emma Blas and I are in week five of a very tight lockdown in Spain, but our situations are extremely different. Emma is stuck in a small flat, I am walking free on a big mountain. In this episode, we compare our different realities and perspectives through Emma’s poem Still, discussing the doors that open through limitation, the grief cycle, the place nature occupies in our psyches, and what exactly can be a balm to our souls in these strangest of times.
The episode of Brene Brown's podcast on grief and meaning that Emma mentions:
More about Emma Blas (and download her free chapbook)
Atulya K Bingham's Earth Whispering Project
Welcome to the first Earth Whispers podcast with myself and Emma Blas. The podcast is a short monthly talk where we discuss the natural wild, the art that blossoms from it, and the magical world of power nature reconnects us to. Emma and I met back in India in 2009 on a yoga teaching training course, but didn’t really reconnect again until 2016 on my earthbag course in Turkey. Then somewhat synchronistically, we both ended up in Asturias.
This first episode was recorded from Emma's campervan, and we talk about:
Emma's book, No Less Wild than the Wind
Emma Blas on Instagram
Atulya K Bingham's Books
The Earth Whispering Blog