• Phil Tanny
    In the article Recapturing Our Lost Bond With Reality we talked about moving beyond philosophy in an effort to deepen our relationship with nature. This page will offer some practical suggestions along those lines which you can edit to best suit your own situation.

    The Place

    We can bond with nature anywhere, but it can help to have a special favorite place dedicated to building this relationship. Let's think back to earlier times when most people lived on some particular piece of land for generations and developed a deep relationship with that place. That's not possible for most of us these days, but with a little determination, creativity and commitment we can get close. Where there's a will, there's a way.

    Like in any relationship, investing time in the relationship is a crucial ingredient to success. So a special place would ideally be at least somewhat removed from human activity, while also being pretty easily accessible so we can visit often. If there's a secret to this, it's time, just showing up, and putting in the time.


    If you haven't already, you might fire up Google Maps and look for public green spaces within 30 minutes of your house.

    State parks are often a good choice as they are typically plentiful, inexpensive to access, almost always open, and usually pretty quiet. I'm blessed to live seven minutes away from a 6,500 acre state park, my special place where I learned all of this. That's a pretty ideal arrangement, but any place will work if we're serious enough.

    The Relationship

    An important principle to keep in mind is that we're trying to deepen a relationship with nature here, and that relationship happens between our ears, in our heads. So while having a special place is helpful, what really matters is not the place as much as it is how we relate to the place.

    Building a relationship with nature is just like making friends with a person. The key ingredients are investing the time, and opening ourselves up to the experience.

    Our goal here is to meet this place, greet this place, spend time in this place, get to know this place, become friends with this place, and maybe fall in love with this place too.


    Opening ourselves up to deeper relationship with nature can be easier than doing the same with a person, because nature doesn't judge. If we're out in the wilds by ourselves somewhere and are blessed to have some emotional experience, nature isn't going to laugh at us, or have an opinion about what we should or shouldn't do, should or shouldn't feel, should or shouldn't express.

    The emotional limitations we all are subject to arise from our desire to fit in socially with other humans. We want to be liked, accepted, included and so on, so we tend to become prisoners of public opinion. There's a time and a place for that, but hopefully we will discover the liberation awaiting us beyond the confines of the crowd too.

    The Game Plan

    1) So as a place to start let's try to find a special place in nature that is a good compromise between being remote and readily accessible.

    2) Then let's start investing as much time in visiting that place as we can. Friends are built from shared time, right?

    3) Finally, let's open ourselves up to this relationship and try to take it at least somewhat seriously. Let's talk about opening up on the next page.
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