By Zubeida Mustafa
George Monbiot, one of my favourite columnists in the Guardian (London), wrote this week about a campaign to “rewild” Britain of which he is one of the pioneers. His column was headlined “Let’s make Britain wild again and find ourselves in nature”. This according to him can heal not only the living world but much that is missing in our own lives.
I realised the importance of connecting with nature when we paid a visit to the Niagara Falls on Thursday (16 July). Let me make it clear at the start that I must have visited the falls umpteen of times since 1992 when I first visited Canada. But the last time I had gone there was fourteen years ago when I had my 60th birthday photograph taken against the backdrop of the gushing waters of this natural wonder of the world.
Hence Thursday’s visit came as a reminder of what we are missing in our day-to-day life, namely the ecosystem which Monbiot terms as a process. He says its “diminished state also restricts the human life.” That is what we need an escape from and that is what the visit to this magnificent display of nature at its best meant for me.
For eyes starved of the sight of greenery and clean water in the barren dullness of Karachi, it was soothing to stand and watch the huge volume of fresh water falling with a loud roar from tremendous heights. It was a dim vision for me but seeing involves memory and the previous visits had left behind plenty of happy memories that were revived.
The smells and sounds and even the feel of the grass on which we sat were not what I experience every day. The new sensations were liberating. They carry you away from the realities of life which in the present day are quite distressing. But when I returned to the real world after a few hours of this phantom experience – that is what it seemed to be to me – I was energised with a new vigour to face what lies ahead. That is the answer to the question people ask, “You have been to Niagara Falls so many times. Why did you want to go again?”
Grimsby, 17 July 2015