Learning from our land: How to live an authentic life
Long-term peace and environment activist, Satish Kumar has been the guiding spirit behind many ecological and educational ventures including Schumacher College in South Devon. He is Editor of Resurgence magazine and founder of the Small School in Hartland which opens in spring 2019 as the Resurgence Centre with a public programme of practical workshops, talks and arts events. www.resurgence.org
The pebbles in this evocative image show the power of water. Even hard rocks become smooth over time because of water. Water makes the rough into smooth and that’s a wonderful thing to consider. I am thinking of Shakespeare in As you Like it.
‘Tongues in trees, books in running brooks, sermons in stones and good in everything.’
Ravilious in a pictorial way explains what Shakespeare articulated in words. We can learn great patience and great endurance and resilience from the stones. We don’t have to go to church and learn this from priest, we can go to a beach learn it from nature.
If you want to eat bread, learn to bake bread as when you do this you are learning about alchemy and transformation. Putting dough in the oven, waiting for it, smelling it and then sharing it with your family - what a joy of life! It’s a great luxury. We say in modern times that we are rich, we have money but we have no real food. This is not a nostalgic picture. It should be a reminder that if we don’t eat well, we’ll get ill and we’ll continue to put pressure on a national health service that can’t cope.For me, in this picture Ravilious shows how we should live an authentic life and to live an authentic life requires authentic food.
When you can teach children to be in nature, they are not afraid of nature. At the moment our children grow outside nature in centrally heated boxes with artificial light. What Ravilious was able to reveal was the importance and significance of children being outdoors and using their hands and being strong - exercise not just in the gymnastics way but exercise in a productive way. Human teachers can teach maths, writing, geography but nature can teach you wisdom and resilience. Children should have education of both heart and hands.
In modern times we sell everything wrapped in plastic. This picture shows home grown food which, for me, represents a high living standard. It’s good to see fresh vegetables grown in the garden or bought from a farmers’ market, unwrapped and uncontaminated. This kind of food brings with it a sense of place and community.
Ravilious was a master photographer as he allowed the time to take good pictures. His pictures illustrate a real, authentic life in which patience is valued and patience, of course, is an essential ingredient for good art.