What do we not know about ourselves? What have we not become due to the way in which our lives are removed from nature? What have we not seen of the world and of ourselves? How would we be different creatures if we had grown up in a world where modernity had evolved enough to understand the fundamental importance of developing our bodies, minds, and senses through and with the natural world? What if we were living in a post-speciesism moment in time and thought where we could move beyond our own cultural entrapment? Will we ever have the courage to get there?
‘Movement Matters’, a book of essays on movement ecology by paradigm-shifting mover, thinker, and writer Katy Bowman has just been released. Ben Pobjoy writes the introduction to the book, “The book you’re holding is radical. Not because it contains powerful and almost peerless arguments for the personal adoption of physical movement, and not even because it illustrates how outsourcing your movement has far-reaching social, political, and ecological consequences. It is radical because when practiced, its movement-oriented messages enrich your life with an ineffable momentum that is as physical as it is existential. It will push you forward.”
And goodness only knows most of us need a push.
Edition 189 of ‘The Model Health Show’ talks to Katy about ‘Movement Matters’. One part of the conversation sparked such a huge moment of recognition in me when listening to it today: Katy talks about the challenges facing parents, or anyone with custody of small beings, in the WEIRD (Western Educated Industrialised ‘Rich’ ‘Democratic’) world who want to go for a walk but whose kids are not on the same path. The experience she describes witnessing most typically is when free-roaming infants with no sense of direction who will not comply with a directed hike. The parent / caregiver can’t go for the walk – what to do? She then talked about her experience of taking her son on a wilderness hike, a trail path where the walls of nature provide a natural direction, and simply watching him shoot off, without delay and without meandering.
Almost as an aside, she poses the question, “I wonder what my son, this one year old, was seeing when he shot off down the trail”.
Hearing this example, I had this vivid recollection of what I understand as one of my first – if not my first – memories, being on a beach for the first time and seeing the pebbles around me leaping at me – they were luminous – feeling pulled to them; this deep urge to just go get amongst it all, to be in the natural world. There was an instant connection.
And I wonder how we would be different – all of us in the WEIRD world – had we grown up engaging with the natural world without the kind of separation and ‘safety’ nets most of us have experienced in our indoor, sedentary, cut-off cultures.
Every time I have these reflections I think again of the friends I made in Sina Ulla, the small village in Arugam Bay, Sri Lanka, I got to know during my time there in 2014 and 2015, their strength, their connection to and familiarity with the earth and ocean around around them. So completely different to those of us who came from the weedy WEIRD world who – on the whole – wouldn’t have the strength to be able to survive in their everyday environment.
Now that ‘Movement Matters’ is available as an e-book those of us outside of the US can get our hands on the essays. Hoorah! The perspective Katy Bowman shares could make for some fundamental conceptual shifts to our habits as a culture, which, if taken to heart, if acted upon, can start to shift some of the broad inequalities we have been unreasonably conditioned to accept as normal.
I got my copy of ‘Movement Matters’ today and began reading it by the ocean here in Deba, Gipuzkoa, so very grateful that Katy Bowman has brought it into our world. Thank you again, Katy! More on the Shamanic yearnings next time…