Changing perceptions about our place in the web of things
It has to do with the ability to read our context and live it, for the change of perception is not passive or theoretical. For this to happen, we have to take care of ourselves on several levels, not only in the sacred dignity but also in individual sovereignty.
This is an invitation to change the perception about our place in the web of things; it has to do with the echo of where and when we are. It has to do with our ability to read our unique context and live it, for the change of perception is not passive or theoretical. For this to occur, we have to take care of ourselves on several levels, not only in the singular sacred dignity but also in individual sovereignty. In this invitation to change perception, we have to take care not to enter into “cognitive extractivism” (a term I first heard through Bayo Akomolafe in WWDWM) by the normalized way we try to draw highly sanitized conclusions without wrinkles, paradoxes, or deviations. This change of perception is not a proposal for abstract recipes; there are no closed rules or prescriptions here, but a place of openness to paradox, which means not wanting to solve or not having to choose one side or the other. This is an invitation to nurture chaos, which at first seems a scary thing because chaos is neither organized nor linear. However, it is incredibly creative and a vast portal where a lot of information submerges and from where both old and new landscapes emerge.
So don’t expect this invitation to sort out what is right or wrong, good or bad because all of this always depends on the context.
There is this idea, wholly disseminated in cultural terms, that we have to belong to the models: someone creates a model somewhere, which by the context that shaped all the subtlety of its creation, has specific rules and limitations. And suddenly, we find this abstract model — taken out of its context and put into the “absolute-universal box” — that makes sense to us, so we try to adapt our whole life according to this model, often exiling or mutilating whatever does not fit into it. However, a decontextualized model is not alive and is rarely dynamic, so in this proposal, I never ask you to mutilate your life or exile parts of your experience to belong to some model.
This invitation focuses on rescuing and re-discovering your language of belonging and attachment. The sacred value of life itself in dialogue and relationship is far more important than any universalistic model.
For this, we need to keep the space full of potentiality and wildness, keeping an open identity, trusting the body, the heartbeat, the gaze depth, and the integrity of presence. I welcome you to the whole being, to the body as a whole, to all the latencies, expectations, loves, to all the dialogues, to all the places that make you up, to what you think you are and to what you don’t know you are, to the weights you carry, to the densities that hold you, to the labyrinths that set you free. This invitation has room for all of this, the shadow and the light.
We can never experience places in any other way than paradoxically. This is the primal wisdom of our rich wild perception.
We bring to this landscape of thresholds the Chronos, the metric and scheduled time, for we have hours and routines that help us plan and organize life. But who dwells in these places of metamorphosis is Kairos, the organic and infinite, kaleidoscopic and cyclopean time, the fractal and sacred time impossible to domesticate. This primal time expands and contracts us, representing the richness and living depth of a time that is not controllable, useful, or linear.
Let’s return to chaos, being here a living concept and even crucial because it brings us to the basic principle of the feminine archetype of the shadow, a cardinal idea of conception and death, of what submerges and emerges. But these days, chaos makes our hands itch, especially our heads, because it throws us into what we try to avoid as a culture: disorganization and impermanence. We are consistently and constantly trying to control the chaos in our lives. Consequently, we miss the experiences of transmutation and profound metamorphosis because we mutilate them at their core. These life-death-rebirth moments and opportunities are present in all places and landscapes. It turns out that the fear of chaos is inevitably the fear of death. Part of inviting a shift in perception is the fundamental idea that death is in service to life in a natural life cycle because it is part of the intrinsic system of life in perpetual self-regeneration. From this point of view, death is the dissolution of boundaries in the porosity of the body and identity, whether in physical, seasonal, emotional, mental, or spiritual death.
Suppose there is one thing that landscapes and nature teach us. In that case, this seasonal movement — death, life, rebirth — is perpetual and happens constantly, regardless of individual or egoic needs.
It is irrelevant what we may think singularly because these life cycles are so much bigger than any one of us. In genuinely working with places, we work in many dimensions, the visible and the invisible, the real and the imagined.
Ecology and Places
Ecology is a word that is used a lot these days and relates directly to the concept of interdependence. From a logical or cognitive point of view, we know that we are completely interdependent on everything. But we have difficulty realizing this living interdependence in deep perception. We have difficulty perceiving the boundaries of this interdependence, which do not exist. The invitation, and not a romantic one for sure, is that instead of fighting against chaos, we can embrace it, feel it, and see it as a transition portal to our wisdom and maturation.
No natural place, be it a mountain, a forest, or a river, is arranged according to the human orthogonal perspective or limited to human categories. Landscapes, eco-systems, biomes, and places are entirely interdependent and chaotic — stochastic — which brings them their spacious living resonating power.
I want to remind you that the multidimensional relationship between various dimensions, such as ideas, memories, sensations, symbols, stories, and places, brings about the fundamental web of meanings and concepts that demonstrates the lens, inevitably and limitedly human, and limited to our experience in this body and this culture, in this concrete context. This lens reveals all the complexity and poetry of our identity and relationship to living places. Indeed, we can never work with places without respecting their sovereignty, for they are not ours and never limited to our lens, perspective, or presence. This is not to say that our perspective or presence is invalid or negative, but places and landscapes have always been much bigger than us. They are the ones that embrace us.
By Sofia Batalha
Mammal, author, woman-mother, and question weaver one day at a time. Awkward prose-poet with no grammatical knowledge. Pilgrim through inner and outer landscapes, remembering ancient earth practices, in radical presence, active listening, ecopsychology, art, ecstasy, and writing. Author of eight books, editor of the free online magazine, Wind and Water, Re-member the Bones Podcast, and Beyond the Sea Conversations — all in Portuguese.
More information: sofiabatalha.com or Instagram: @serpentedalua
[Disclaimer: All words and concepts woven into this article are born through my living, naturally biased, and always limited perception of things, not assuming that they carry any absolute truth. I write from a low-intensity context of the global north].