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Still A Life 

© Guido Castagnoli

On 31 December 2019, the World Health Organization was informed of cases of pneumonia of unknown cause in Wuhan City, China. A new coronavirus was identified as the cause by Chinese authorities on 7 January 2020 and was temporarily named “2019-nCoV”.

Since then the virus slipped (directly or indirectly) at a tremendous speed in the life of billions of people around the world affecting deeply our usual way of living that was until then given mostly for granted.

In March 2020 social distancing (WIKIPEDIA: a set of non-pharmaceutical interventions or measures intended to prevent the spread of a contagious disease by maintaining a physical distance between people and reducing the number of times people come into close contact with each other) was introduced in our life.

Aristotle, the Greek philosopher once said, “Man is by nature a social animal”. It’s not even necessary to call in one of the most brilliant mind of the human history to convince us about this fact.

It is almost if there is no continuity solution between individuals and society.

Social distancing forcibly and all of a sudden interrupted one of the most fundamental behaviour of a society made of persons: physical proximity which is nothing about the mere physical location of two or more individuals but is all about the psychological proximity brought in by the physical proximity.

The psychological effects of this rule on individuals minds are innumerable and different for each of us.

In my case, paradoxically, it has a tremendous transformational power.

I discovered nature and discovering nature I discovered a new, wider, deeper and wiser sense on what it means to be human.

One day I was walking in the lively silence of a forest, far away from any trace of humans artefacts, surrounded by the beauty and complexity of this non human world that we call nature and all of a sudden something that was more than an idea, more than a feeling, more similar to a deep intuition or a kind of sudden knowledge hits me in the profundity of my being: “I am that! I am that nature!” I was no longer a separate identity, I was no longer a human being looking at nature. I was nature contemplating itself. Since then a joyfully and peaceful sense of belonging entered my life.

We, as human being, have the natural, powerful tendency to feel separate from all other forms of existence. What was suggested by that intuition that day in the forest is that, hidden behind our human nature, there is a more fundamental nature and that this nature is the same for all the existing thing in this universe. An universal sense of brotherhood.

The knowledge of this hidden common nature is usually hidden behind our over occupied/fast human-centered life.

Sometimes if you want to understand/see something in its entirety you have to step back from it. I guess this is what happen to me after spending so much time away from the human world because of the social distancing rules.
In Japan you can ask your doctor to prescribe you a Shinrin-yoku (forest bathing).

Despite its name, it’s not about taking a bath in a lake or river or some other wooded setting. Forest bathing means intentional walking or hiking through a forest or nature in order to get closer to the trees and the other forms of life in the forest.

You might not reach enlightenment but it is something that we all should do more to not get (too much) lost in the intricate forest of our beautiful human experience.

Still a Life is an ongoing project that focus its attention on nature other than human nature”. A forest bathing brought directly to your door by this series of pictures.

click to view the complete set of images in the archive

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