Here are a series of observations and field notes from Gian Paolo Cottino, during our working time in the forest. Gian’s detailed and poetic observations elucidate our activities and realms of conversation, through the lens of his experience and thought processes which arose from this intense working time together. I will publish them in a series of 4 parts over the coming weeks.
King’s Wood, Kent. August 2016.
I walk, the coppiced hearts of the chestnut trees touching me as I make my way to camp.
They keep giving, keep on providing, continuously bringing the earth into the sky. There is renewal here, every day.
I think about renewal through practice, how every day we might renew the self and every day renew our relationship to mystery, recommitting each day to our true longings.
I become aware of myself and of how I am included and enveloped in that which I see. I belong in this material.
As I let go all my senses open, my body relaxes and moves of it’s own accord, and mind follows, diving into the joy of connection. My jaw drops, my mouth opens, I speak with the dragonflies.
I see the wind and feel her all over me, becoming aware and remembering that she is communication between all things.
Seeds high up in the air.
This peripheral vision softens my gaze to see all as one fabric, one material, and yet… it is also the way of the hunter and the stalker and of the indigenous warrior and the martial artist. It is impersonal yet all inclusive.
Crow glitters in the sun of the north.
I see insects and plants I hadn’t been been able to perceive when once I walked upright.
Here there is an abundance of new colours, of new forms, and the small yet sharp intentions of lives. They grow upon me, covering me in their universe. My head wants to go deeper, drop further down. Now I find it difficult to perceive what lies ahead. It is a space of immediacy and intoxicating instinct.
Time slows down and I become entrenched with the ground. I smell and follow spoor. Animals and birds are less alarmed by my slow pace. The light is flickering on the ground and in the woods, playing optical games inspired by the trees. Soon they are kaleidoscopic and hallucinogenic like effects, transporting my body ahead of me and into the thicket.
I am reminded of an article that pointed toward the forest’s interplay of light and shadow and to humans’ relationship with the hallucinogenic plants of these arboreal places (and hence the spool of images and the emotive response of imagination) as the trigger and origin of abstract thought. The leaps of light and the stirring of shadows quickening our mind as it follows helpless the imaginative image.
Turning onto my back I walk the sky and all the weight of my body is lifted.