We Do Not Know How

Welcome beautiful Springtime! Good to feel your warmth once again. Everything feels easier, softer. I’m walking in the wonderful Forest of Bowland. I crept out early just after sunrise. There are still puddles by the farmyard gate — even with the returning sun it’ll be a while before they dry up here in the hills. Through the gate, across the boggy field and over the little stream by the falling down stone wall. It is truly a beautiful day to be alive.

I enter the pine wood, natural and unmanaged. It feels different in here. There is the magic of birdsong but also a stillness, like something waiting to happen. It’s a tricky place to traverse but well worth the stumbling and adventurous path because of what lies beyond. A vast view of valleys and hills, streams and woodland as far and wide as the eye can see. No road, no house, no car, no mechanised world, only pure and true nature. This is Middle Earth. It is rare and I love it. You would too.

The Forest of Bowland

I stand at the top of this hill in the rays of the sun and give thanks for this purity and a life that allows me to be here with it all. There is nothing to do and no where to go — a rare occasion when time really does stand still.

Wait! Over there in the distance. The sound of a gun firing. Then another. Hunters in one of the woodlands reaching up the hill on the other side of the valley. It saddens me to think of the animals there, frightened and fighting to survive just as we would.

More pops of distant guns. Then a cheer and celebrating laughter. They have their sport. I don’t understand it. Along with sadness, some words enter my mind from nowhere: “They would not listen, they did not know how”. That’s from the song Vincent by Don McLean. I’d never thought about the true meaning of those words before — now they made sense. The idea of not knowing how was profound to me…

These hunters celebrating the death of innocent animals would never understand a viewpoint in sympathy of these little lives. They simply would not know how to feel this. And, crucially, just in the same way, I do not know how to understand their ways either. No one is wrong or right, we have different thought patterns and outlooks on life, on nature, on what it is to be human. And that’s ok. The world turns and we play out our lives in the ways we love and know how. This contrast of views brings some balance to life.

Interestingly, Bob Dylan says the same thing: “Don’t criticise what you can’t understand”. Note can’t. It’s not that we don’t want to understand out of stubbornness, it’s that we can’t understand based on our current worldview. These clever folk singers from the old new revolution had a good sense of this. For me, it has allowed easier acceptance and greater peace on conflicting views.

What about you?