The Secret of Life

Angelina, 2014

One of the first conditions of happiness is
that the link between man and nature
shall not be broken.

Leo Tolstoy

Are you happy to be alive? Do you feel like you have enough: enough food, enough money, enough love? Do you feel safe, supported, and eager to face the day?

In order to be happy with your life, there is only one thing you need to do, and it’s the only thing you can do. You only need to answer one question, and nothing else matters. Can you guess what the question is?

Here are seven ways to answer that question. Which of the following statements do you agree with:

• Life is good.

• The universe is a friendly place.

• The world is mostly full of good, beneficial things, not bad, harmful ones.

• Everything is OK.

• Everything is going to be OK.

• Everything has always been OK.

• Everything turns out for the best.

If you can’t honestly say yes to all of the above, you are not a happy camper. If so, welcome to the club. About 99.9% of the human race agrees with you because this is what civilized people believe. For over five thousand years, nearly every human being has believed that life is hard and that the world is a dangerous place. Simply put, we don’t feel at home.

Your home is your castle. When you’re home, you can let down your guard. You can relax. You feel safe, comfortable, provided for, and surrounded by friends and family, not out on your own alone. This is how we are meant to feel most of the time. Is that how you feel now? Do you have enough food, money, and love? If not, if you want to feel good about your life, it’s time to come home.

Foraging, i.e., harvesting wild food, is a way to enjoy life as it is. It’s about taking life as it comes. To live from land to mouth is to trust that you will be provided for, that Mother Nature will take care of you. When you live off the land, you feel at home in the world. You don’t see it as a trap or a battlefield. You don’t say, “we’re not out of the woods yet.” You can’t wait to get in.

Jesus said not to worry about tomorrow, about where your food, clothing, or shelter will come from. Just keep the faith and these things will come to you. Why? Because “God” (or Gaia, The Earth) loves you. Do you believe that? Can you be that trusting? Or is all this just a naive child’s fantasy, a camp cult classic?

In most cases, the best strategy for a job interview is to be fairly honest, because the worst thing that can happen is that you won’t get the job and will spend the rest of your life foraging for food in the wilderness and seeking shelter underneath a tree or the awning of a bowling alley that has gone out of business.

Lemony Snicket, Horseradish: Bitter Truths You Can’t Avoid

Where is the “real” world? Has life always been this hard? I know my answer.

There is a place and a name for home; it’s called Eden. We have developed, over five thousand years, an Eden disorder. Fortunately, paradise is not so far away. It’s alive and well all around us. Wherever you are, even in a concrete jungle, there’s enough food to feed you and your family, free for the taking, at most a few miles away. Do you know dandelion, violet, chickweed, wild leeks, morels, chanterelles, elderberry, sassafras, passionfruit, or the dozens of other common wild edibles around you? It’s time to eat the neighbors!

When we regain a sense of home, we uncover our true nature. That’s why the best foragers in the world are children. They are literally and figuratively closer to the earth. They don’t know not to take food from strangers, now that nature has become a stranger to us. In the Jewish Passover ritual, it is the children who find the hidden piece of afikomen, the missing bite of matzah that symbolizes salvation.

Are you looking for what will finally make you happy? Then you must become as little children. It’s easy, and it has always been easy. Just take what nature has been offering since time began. We may have left the garden, but the garden has never left us.

The most precious things of life are near at hand, without money and without price. Each of you has the whole wealth of the universe at your very door. All that I ever had, and still have, may be yours by stretching forth your hand and taking it.

John Burroughs, Boy and Man

To be young and happy again, like a child, shed the armor of civilization. Rewild yourself. Living by the graze of God, you find that life can be fun again, like it used to be, not just an endless struggle to survive.  The battleground turns into a playground; scarcity turns into abundance. The land flows with milk and honey, maybe even chocolate.

Can you believe it? Just do the math: Home + Land = Security. When you forage, shopping becomes a perpetual Easter egg hunt. And it’s not just the food that’s wild and free. Going back to nature, we go back to our true nature as trusting, loving beings. We welcome the world with open arms, and we find that it has been waiting for us all this time: for us to come home.

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