Wild Growth

A client recently called to say he wouldn’t be able to make our Zoom session as he was lost in the forest, and couldn’t get Wi-Fi. I opened Outlook to reschedule, and while it was loading, I asked him how he was.

He told me he felt directionless: his heart was no longer in his job, but he was afraid of walking away without a guaranteed steady income. ‘It’s actually like being lost in the forest.’

With his words I saw that we could perceive his lostness as an inconvenience, or as a gift. I’ve often worked with clients on the phone in homes or offices, and I’ve done sessions in nature, drawing on Ecotherapy. Could we combine the two? He was up for the experiment.

He said a little bit more about his life situation: what had been happening, and how he was feeling now. I asked him to look around, to tell me about the place he was in. He described the woodland, and was clearly drawn to an old sycamore. I suggested he sit with it for a while. I heard rustles and snaps from the forest floor as he made his way towards the tree.

He sat for a while, and presently spoke about feeling the sycamore’s roots in the earth, and its trunk giving him a better sense of his spine. He felt more grounded, he said; more solid. We spent some time expanding and anchoring his physical and emotional sensations.

Eventually he felt ready to move away from the support of the sycamore’s trunk. Standing, he found himself caught in brambles. He described an urge to trample them, kick himself free, and we explored what that would be like. He said trampling might damage the brambles and any unseen creatures amongst them, and possibly him too. He took time to step carefully through, with mindful (and bodiful) attention.

Back in a clear space, he reflected that ‘slowly and carefully’ may be how he needs to leave his job, rather than the ‘door slam’ he’d been imagining.

Presently he found a path. He didn’t know where it led, but he knew it would lead somewhere.

He emailed me later (from home) about how surprisingly transformative he’d found the session we almost didn’t have.

It was transformative for me, too. It’s well known that we can find ourselves infinitely creative when obstacles arise. And that can multiply when unspoken, unquestioned rules are dismantled by circumstance – as lockdown showed us so powerfully and beautifully.

It makes me shiver to imagine what transformations might be possible if, as a society, we can face our current crises creatively and unconventionally, with the wild world, rich in meaning, as our container and inspiration.