When I look at wild animals living out in the wild, I can’t help but envy their lives. Theirs is quite a simple routine. Wake up, eat or be eaten, mate, sleep, repeat. Of course, it’s more complex than that; I mean, a predator has to be clever in hunting its prey. We all awe at the majestic nature of lions and their prowess at hunting, but guess what; they only have a 25% success rate in catching their prey. The gazelle can’t be daydreaming about the blue skies when the lion is hiding in the tall grass lest she meets her ancestors before she is ready to. Aside from being animals, the lion and gazelle have one thing in common. They are one with nature.
I can’t help but think of our ancestors who lived in harmony with nature. I think of how they woke up to the melody of the birds in the forest, how the streams provided them with cool, fresh water to quench their thirst whenever their throats were dry. I imagine them gathering around bonfires at night, eating freshly cooked food, telling stories under the starlit sky. I can see them taking in deep breaths, filling in their lungs with fresh, spotless, flawless, clean air filling in their lungs with abundant life.
Sadly, our world has become a kind of a matrix where we’re plugged into an anti-nature system. We’re no longer one with nature but one with capitalism. We are constantly running the rat race, chasing money to the grave. We’re always working day and night sitting behind desks in office buildings whose only light source is the glaring fluorescent bulbs. We’re constantly being fed information on our devices, whether we’re working or scrolling through social media pages looking for an escape. We’re always up and about doing something because we are living in the “hustle and grind culture” where you always have to be busy doing something, otherwise, you’ll get left behind by all your peers. We can no longer see the stars at night because the city is flooded with night lights.
This Sunday, we went for an Unplug drift in Uplands forest, near Limuru, which is in the southern part of the Aberdare Forest. Part of the forest is planted and the trees are used for commercial purposes while the others are planted in their stead. There was also a PELiS (Plantation Establishment Livelihood System) where the locals practise agroforestry (planting their food crops with trees). This is a sustainable system that enables them to make profits while still conserving the forests. The other part of the forest is conserved under the Kenya Forest Service, where it is illegal to chop any trees.
The rangers were kind and supportive as they guided us through the trail which, was a first for us all. We were all required to put our phones away and just disconnect from the busy world. No calls from work or texts to go for sherehe. No taking pictures or videos for the Gram either. It was a chance for us to spend time away from the city and fill our lungs with the fresh air granted to us by the trees.
In a world where we’re always doing something, this trail was there to let us just be in our essence. We walked in nature, listening to the symphony of the forest- the wind rustling the leaves on the trees, the birds chirping, the water crashing into the rocks at the bottom of the waterfall. We got to dip our toes in the stream letting the cool water soothe us. We got to sit on nature’s carpet – the forest’s grass and bonded as we shared a meal communally. We also got to stretch our bodies to ease the tension in our muscles from every day’s stresses and hustles.
Sometimes I wish I could unplug every day and just dwell in the therapeutic silence and symphonies of nature, but since I can’t, I’ll ask you to join me in the next Unplug Drift.
By Wairimu Karen