Some 15 years ago, I lived 18 floors high in a downtown Toronto apartment – exposed concrete ceiling and a view of the city, CN Tower and all.
Everything I could want was within walking distance: movies, restaurants, and a giant grocery store with a Great Wall of Cheese.
I lived at the centre of the world. Indeed, I forgot the rest of the world existed. The city of Toronto was my world.
Except there was something missing.
I longed to escape to the greenery of Toronto Island, or further afield to Ontario’s cottage country. When I did, I felt better. I relaxed. I was home.
I think many of us have that longing, even if we can’t put a finger on it. It’s why we linger in parks or slow down on tree-lined streets. It’s why we create gardens.
Home isn’t in concrete and glass. It’s in trees and grass. Instead of pavement under our feet, home is mud and rocks.
This is biophilia. We all have it, somewhere inside.
As a species, humanity is estranged from its home. We’ve created simulacra of home in our cities – societies with their own reality. Live long enough in them and you think that’s the only reality there is.
That estrangement has an effect greater than an itch in the back of our minds. It has led to a culture that dismisses nature other than for its economic value. We extract and we destroy.
And in doing so, we destroy our home.
When we climb a green hill and look back at the city, it pays to question where our home is. Is it the shining lights or the soft breeze?
Is it an anthropocentric world or is it much bigger than that?
Can we feel our ancestors calling us?