Stressed? Fed up? Unhappy? That’s how writer and creative actionista Yang-May Ooi had been feeling in her desk-based city life in London. Now, she’s on a personal journey to change all that by re-connecting with nature. She invites you to join her on this exploration through her new online creative project, ReWilding my Life.
Author Yang-May Ooi launches new online creative project Rewilding My Life
I love being in nature and the outdoors.
But I have spent most of my life indoors.
Disconnected from the Natural World
During the week, I would spend most of my day inside an office and in a train on my commute. In my leisure time, I would be indoors at home. If I meet friends, we would meet in a restaurant, art gallery or theatre. Exercise would happen in the gym.
On top of that, my life as a writer and performer would mean the rest of my time would be spent at the computer or in rehearsal spaces.
My only time outside would be a few hours a week running or going for a walk – or on holiday and occasionally in good weather, sitting outside in beer gardens or on picnics.
In recent years, this cooped up lifestyle has been feeling claustrophobic. I feel trapped. Caged.
What’s more, in London, noise, hectic traffic and throngs of people crowd in on me even when I’m outside.
Stress, Depression and Damage to Health
I don’t talk about it much but situational depression, ugly moods and a short temper have plagued me over the years.
Research shows that being in nature can improve our wellbeing. Conversely, being in in loud, crowded, unnatural environments can increase our stress levels and be damaging to our mental and physical health.
Could living in a competitive, crowded, polluted city be part of the problem? Could it be that not being able to connect with what I love – nature and the outdoors – be starving me of much needed psychological, physical and emotional nourishment?
Nature and Us
Over half the world’s population today lives in urban areas – and urban populations are set to grow by almost 2% year on year. Affordable housing is already an issue in many major cities and will become increasingly expensive as more people cram into less space.
At the same time, funding for public parks is likely to reduce. Spending is increasingly likely to go to more urgent needs rather than leisure and wellbeing.
What is going to happen to us – as individuals and as a society – as more of us find ourselves living in densely crowded, noisy, stressful, concrete cities with hardly any sight of greenery and with no space to play or picnic or just sit quietly in nature?
The ReWilding My Life Project
It feels to me more urgent now than ever to look at our relationship with nature – not just for myself but for all of us, as individuals, and on a wider scale. My new creative project, ReWilding My Life, is my personal journey to reconnect with nature.
My aim is to experiment with different ways I can bring nature into my life, starting from where I am right now. What practical action can I take? How do I make changes to my life to invite wilderness in?
Also, how can I re-connect with my inner wild nature – that part of myself that is true and authentic? How do I take off the armour that I’ve put on over the years of sophistication, refinement, efficiency, pragmatism and other layers that city life can often demand – and rediscover wonder, vulnerability, playfulness, connection with others and my fierce heart?
At a wider level, I want to delve into our psychological, emotional and spiritual relationship with nature and contemplate cultural and artistic interpretations. What does nature mean to us? And what do we mean to nature? How does the wild, real or imagined, shape our values and society?
I hope that along this journey, I may also find a diverse tribe who feel called to ReWild their lives, too. I look forward to sharing their stories, hopes and experiences here on this blog.
What will be the final outcome of this project to ReWild My Life? I don’t know. But I hope that connecting with something vast, universal and full of wonderful may open up new vistas for my life and creativity.
Will You Join Me in the Wild?
I hope very much that you will join me on this meandering journey of ReWilding.
Take a look at the first of these essays, prompted by my recent visit to Sissinghurst – Discovering Timelessness in a Fleeting Garden – The White Garden, Sissinghurst.
To see all the other content that makes up this project, go to ReWilding My Life via the sidebar on the left.
I’d love to hear from you.
Garden from flickr.com (COM) thanks to jillclardy
Wisteria and Walking in the Woods from Yang-May Ooi’s personal album
Rewilding My Life is author Yang-May Ooi’s personal journey to explore how our urban lives alienate us from the natural world – and how we can re-connect with nature and our sense of the wild. Follow this Tiger Spirit project via Rewilding My Life link on the left sidebar.
Author: Yang-May Ooi
Yang-May Ooi is a multimedia author & TEDx speaker. Her creative projects include Bound Feet Blues (theatre), South London Voices and Creative Conversations (podcasts) and The Nowhere Land Project (photography). She also works with individuals, non-profits and small businesses to help them tell their unique stories in inspiring words and images. ¦ www.TigerSpirit.co.uk