What an extraordinary thing it is!
Considering the harshness of space and the chances stacked against us1, it’s no small miracle that after 13.7 billion years we’re here at all; multicellular, thinking, feeling, walking, breathing, sensing, reflective human beings – inextricably linked to the cosmos2, alive on a beautiful and fragile Living Planet suspended in space, amidst the backdrop of infinity3. This is our reality.
It’s an easy thing to forget.
Caught up in the stories of our cultural conditioning; the myths of progress and growth4 and the illusion of our separation from nature,5 whilst spending more time indoors6 and on screens7 than ever – we human beings are suffering a sense of disconnection from ourselves, each other8 and the world around us.
And we’re seeing unprecedented knock-on effects.
Widespread detrimental symptoms are showing up in our health, society and natural ecosystems. In the face of this social, economic and ecological unraveling – it’s time to challenge our dominant narratives and reductionist worldview.
Now more than ever before, we need to remember and reconnect to the sense that we are part of something bigger – this Earth we call home – and to cultivate a more planetary perspective9.
We believe this kind of urgent behavioral change and shift in cultural worldview comes not only from a cognitive understanding of the issues we face, but also from a real, embodied, felt experience of our interrelatedness. And what better, more beautiful way could there be than experiencing…
“Do we want to be remembered as the generation that saved the banks but let the biosphere collapse?”
“Limiting global warming to 1.5°C would require rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society”
“Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly… We aren’t going to have peace on Earth until we recognise this basic fact of the interrelated structure of all reality.”
– Martin Luther King Jr., civil rights activist
“The more clearly we can focus our attention on the wonders and realities of the universe about us, the less taste we shall have for the destruction of our race.”
“Improving human-nature relationships through personal outdoor experiences is not only possible, it’s profoundly rewarding.”
…the transformative power of AWE.
Awe is amazing.10 This universally human emotion is experienced in every culture around the world, regardless of boundaries or beliefs.11 The emerging research is showing that experiences of awe have the power to positively impact our health and wellbeing, our sense of social connection and relationship to the world around us.12 The self-transcendent nature of awe as an emotion helps us to feel respect and reverence for the larger whole.
Both in the research and our experience, the natural world has shown time and again to be the key elicitor of awe. And it makes sense – when we cultivate a connection to the natural world around us we tap in to the wider web of life that we are all part of – reminding us of how extraordinary the interrelated nature of our existence really is.
An antidote for the times we’re living in.
So especially now, in these times of complex and converging crises – awe is a RADICAL act. It offers one of the most meaningful and essential antidotes to the challenges and change we face, and helps give us the perspective and resilience to enable and accelerate the movement towards a more regenerative future.
“Awe is the lightning bolt that marks in memory those moments when the doors of perception are cleansed and we see with startling clarity what is truly important in life.”
“No one will protect what they don’t care about, and no one will care about what they have never experienced.”
– David Attenborough
At it’s heart, Living Alive is one part of an emerging global movement of individuals and organisations13; filmakers14, artists15, neuroscientists, activists,16 charities, educators, philosophers17, journalists,18 healthcare professionals, social entrepreneurs, changemakers, businesses19 and even astronauts20. Each in our own way we’re all working towards redressing a more balanced relationship with ourselves, one another and the Earth.
We believe that creating opportunities for people to experience awe, a planetary perspective and a sense of belonging in the natural world, provides one of the most direct, accessible and inspiring ways to catalyse positive social and ecological behaviour change; for the benefit of both people and planet.
“We see global warming not as an inevitability, but as an invitation to build, innovate and effect change, a pathway that awakens creativity, compassion and genius. This is not a liberal agenda, nor is it a conservative one. This is a human agenda.”
Footnotes [ + ]
|1.||↑||Earth lies within the Circumstellar Habitable Zone or ‘Goldilocks Zone‘, referring to the unique combination of specific conditions which allow complex multi-cellular life to evolve.|
|3.||↑||The Pale Blue Dot is an image taken, at Carl Sagan’s suggestion, by Voyager 1 on February 14, 1990. Voyager 1 was about 6.4 billion kilometres (4 billion miles) away when it captured this portrait of our world. Caught in the centre of scattered light rays, Earth appears as a tiny point of light, a crescent less than 1 pixel in size.|
|4.||↑||Multimedia: Paul Kingsnorth interview on Emergence Magazine|
|5.||↑||Article: Charles Eisenstein on the ‘The Story of Separation‘|
|6.||↑||Article: The Next Frontier: The Great Indoors|
|7.||↑||Article: Have smartphones destroyed a generation? Article: Hooked on our smartphones|
|8.||↑||Article: The Loneliness Epidemic – We’re more connected than ever before, but are we feeling more alone?|
|9.||↑||Article: ‘They saw the Earth from Space. Here’s how it changed them.’ _ National Geographic|
|10.||↑||Article: All About Awe|
|11.||↑||Article: Why do we feel Awe? Article: How marvelling at the wonders of the planet can feed our souls|
|12.||↑||Research: Awe at the Greater Good Science Centre, University of California Berkeley|
|13.||↑||“When asked if I am pessimistic or optimistic about the future, my answer is always the same: If you look at the science about what is happening on earth and aren’t pessimistic, you don’t understand data. But if you meet the people who are working to restore this earth and the lives of the poor, and you aren’t optimistic, you haven’t got a pulse. What I see everywhere in the world are ordinary people willing to confront despair, power, and incalculable odds in order to restore some semblance of grace, justice, and beauty to this world.” – Paul Hawken|
|14.||↑||See: The Planetary Collective|
|15.||↑||Article: Environmental Art is on the Rise – The Guardian|
|16.||↑||See: Extinction Rebellion|
|17.||↑||See the work of Joanna Macy on The Great Turning|
|18.||↑||See the fearless journalism of George Monbiot|
|19.||↑||See business communities like One Percent for the Planet and BLab|
|20.||↑||Video: Nasa Astronaut Ron Garan on the Orbital Perspective|