By George Lewis

In the boreal forest of central Ontario, trees gathered around me while the sun set over the lake, bursting striations of gold and pink into the sky.

In Central Park I felt rocks that had been shaped by millions of human hands.

Western science does not have many terms to describe the mysteries of life. In scientific language, our terminology is used to define the boundaries of our knowing, what lies beyond our grasp remains unnamed. The language scientists speak, no matter how precise, is founded on a profound grammatical error – a loss in translation from the native peoples.

Listening in wild places, we are exposed to dialogues that do not belong to us. The rustling of leaves, water seeping into the dirt, birds singing, and something more – something outside ourselves, a language that reminds us that we are never alone. Humans have evolved inside this unspoken language, entirely dependent on its teachings for millennia. The amazing part about this language is that it will speak to you if you let it.

Trying to separate ourselves into walled-off boxes and sterile spaces, using artificial air filtration, lighting, and entertainment will only end poorly. There is no distinguishing line between humans and the rest of the living world.

If we accept the natural environment for what it is – an advanced collection of interdependent organisms, we can learn that incorporating the natural environment in urban spaces can’t stop at trees on the sidewalk and desk plants. We need to create a space for the wordless to seep into our hearts – to dig in the dirt – to reconnect with the mycelium and earthworms and goldenrod. Only then do we stand a chance at remembering where we came from, discovering ourselves, and creating an all-inclusive future.

George studied materials science engineering at Virginia Tech (B.S., 2016). He is passionate about hiking, camping, biking, plants, and good times with good people.