The Peace of Wild Things

This post is inspired by the poem by Wendell Berry, The Peace of Wild Things.

I’m presently feeling hopeless and constantly bothered by thought of the future humanity is making for it’s self. I feel held on the edge of a precipice emotionally, this is not a natural state for me as I think the glass is always full, ever the eternal optimist you might say.

So why am I in this emotional place right now? nothing has changed in my life, I’m honoured to be the co-caretaker of a small human scale farm  in central France along side Fiona my wonderful wife since 2002. We have food in abundance an amazing home full of beauty and function, no debt and much to look forward to in our future. Each year we work less and harvest more from our now evolving permaculture design. We talk with each other and support each other in both our collective and individual aspirations, even today we are planning for next year with new and exciting challenges ahead. Still my thoughts are constantly interrupted by a sense of despair for the future of humanity.

Paris is presently host to yet another conference of world leaders who could make decisions that would reverse humanities present trajectory of global ecosystem destruction. Twenty previous conferences have changed nothing, this is the 21st time people from around the world have demonstrated in the streets demanding for others to make decisions that could make the world better. Better meaning safer, cleaner and more equal, but the time period for the last twenty conferences has seen the world become more dangerous, dirtier and less equal. I often use the quote from Gandhi “You must be the change you wish to see in the world.” I often shorten it to “be the change” when people are asking me or others to do or make the changes.

I strive to do all I can to “be the change,” permaculture design gives me the tools to change some of the things that make the differences I want to see. I don’t feel it’s enough, and I have to remind myself.

“I cannot do all the good that the world needs. But the world needs all the good that I can do.” ― Jana Stanfield


Then I have to find a way to nourish my self to give me the  strength to do more or at least to continue to do something, and that’s “all the good that I can do”


I find this nourishment from many places, from physical and emotional contact with Fiona ( who loves me more than I deserve.) From Jazz (our dog who loves everyone) from our day to day life including the joy I find in physical work. From the food we are rewarded with from our work both physical and mental. I’m nourished by creating with my hands and socializing with friends and neighbours. I’m nourished by the peace of wild things.

The Peace of Wild Things

by Wendell Berry,

When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.


David Holmgren writes in his book “Principles and Pathways Beyond Sustainability” that people-care starts with yourself, recognising that nourishing yourself for the work ahead is as important as caring for others. May we all find the nourishment to do “all the good that we can do” in the difficult times ahead.

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