There is a little place near Totnes in Devon called Schumacher College,
and I just spent a month there beginning a masters degree in
Ecology and Spirituality.
It's difficult to put into words exactly what this month has done for me.
I think people go there expecting some big life-changing, wake-up moment, but for me it happened in little moments. One moment can lead to many, many more and if the first moment didn't exist, neither would the others.
The moment that Jenny (course participant and room-neighbour) told me to chose a room overlooking a particular tree, which led to an in-depth enquiry about human attachments to trees, which I wrote about for my assignment, and changed forever the way I think about human-nature interactions.
The moment I jumped in the River Dart and the kingfisher flew past me, and for the next week I was attracting flying things: a ladybird in the classroom, a crawly-winged bug on a leaf during a meditation, an insect during a talk in Totnes, a robin hopping around my feet in Dartington gardens.
The moment our lecturer Andy arrived, his premature twins still in hospital, and held his head up and did a fantastic job teaching us all, which led to me questioning how me doing this course would impact future generations, and me realising that my future babies were indeed alive and calling to me to create their bodies, quick!
The moment Satish Kumar (founder of the college) said ''celebrate not knowing'', and how this theme repeated throughout the course, that science tries to 'know' everything, and humanity simply can't know, the magic is in not knowing, and I feel myself relax into the knowledge that it's alright not to know, which is something I have struggled with my whole life, I always hated to admit not knowing.
The moment Stephan Harding asked us to touch trees and plants as if they can feel you back, and I started walking on the ground, and the ground started walking on me, and both my feet and the ground beneath me moved as one, forever moving forward, and I felt some sort of vertigo but a pleasant one, and I realised what an impact my every footstep makes.
The moment I felt such gratitude as Maria led me blind around the garden, placing leaves and moss in my hands, guiding me to touch a tree, and what joy there is in being given such a simple gift, and what delight there is in the anticipation before the gift is given, I felt like a child and want to share that feeling with the world.
The moment we watched the Pagan Morris Dancers, all in black with feathers in their hats, crashing their sticks together in a high-energy frenzy of movement, and we sang Wassail to the trees and put bread on the branches, and I thought to myself 'what an incredible country I am from' that these traditions still exist.
The moment of reaching the standing stone circle of Scorhill, and feeling like I belong to this land, and I am from this land, and however much travelling I may do, and however many countries I go to, there really is no place like home because I am from here, I have breathed here every moment since my conception, my blood is here, red like Dorothy's shoes.
The moment Martin Shaw, storyteller and mythologist, asked us ''where did you find yourself in the story I just told?'' and it was in the dance between the father and the fox, when generations of fathers and daughters danced together, stretching out behind them, and I realised how powerful a real story can be, how it can capture ones soul, lift it up and crash it down, how a story is a being in itself, with all the emotions and intricacies of you and I.
The moments my mind was blown through incredible lectures,
like that of Rupert Sheldrake and many others.
The moment I first tasted the incredible food that is served every day.
The moment I went to see my power animal, the turtle Leo,
and we went on a shamanic adventure together.
The moments in the woods, in the library, in the Old Postern building, in Totnes town.
The moments with the wonderful people on the course and facilitating it, the Swiss, the Belgian, the Spaniard, the Brazilians, the Hong Kongese, the Brits, the German and the South African.
And I know that throughout my life I will keep finding little moments that link back to these first moments at Schumacher.
Many ideas, beliefs, emotions and thoughts have taken root in me over the past month.
You may call Schumacher an academic college, a spiritual institution,
a beautiful place to live and study,
but what is it really?
In essence: it's a place for the future to take root.