This indivisibility with nature, it slowly falls over your body. In the ever-present awareness of large creatures around you, you feel yourself to be woven into the web of life — human, not superior. We hunt moose and dipnet salmon in order to stock our freezers, participating in the universal preparation for winter, just like the other creatures. It casts in stark relief how much we rely on and need our environment and our animals to be healthy.
We humans think, ponder, reason, extract, build, create masterfully, but who is to say a tiny songbird completing its 1,000 mile journey across the Atlantic using magnetic poles as its guide has accomplished a feat any less epic? Or a family of whales navigating their blue world using sonar to ride ocean currents from one hemisphere to another? Or the cultural knowledge bears have of their ancestral lands, passed down through generations?
To learn and witness these myriad adaptabilities and ways of existing in the environment, whether underwater or skybound, is to know there is a force of creation. The biodiversity of creatures we live amongst is a tangible reminder of this: endless forms, most beautiful. I began to feel that in conserving our animals, honoring the sacred ecology of wild creatures, we would be conserving our humanity.
I began to see our skin as an interface holding something encased. This something, You, the endless god knows of you, in a thin cell, sharing the world with other conscious beings. Whether its a bear smelling prey miles away, or a migratory bird seeing Earth’s magnetic field, or a newborn whale learning to sing, or deaf and blind human building up a rich tactile awareness with which to experience and communicate. Life, in all forms, has a Oneness, an undeniable divine interconnectedness. This awareness toppled me from the supposed top of the food chain down into the grit and muck, and in that muck I found an intimacy, like returning home.
This could happen anywhere. There is equally unruly wildness in a patch of grass between highway medians in Newark, but by the very fact of its vastness and its creatures it seems to happen a little easier in Alaska. I still won’t feel resourceful until I’ve fished and hunted for my sustenance, and I’ve unequivocally determined that running water is the bomb, but for now I can still feel it working its strange, slow magic on me, an alchemical change, a cosmic homecoming, and I know I won’t ever be the same.
This piece was originally published at Medium under the title ‘A Cosmic Homecoming’ and is reproduced here with kind permission of the author, Jennifer Tarnacki