Past events

Lecture Alan McSmith

Lecture Alan McSmith

It is not the earth that needs healing, it is us.

Wageningen, May 20th 2022

Alan McSmith is a South African wilderness guide and tracker, which has defined who he is, and why he is. It is a state secret for how many years Alan has been a nature guide, but it clearly has grown on him, and in him. As part of his current European tour, Alan visited Wageningen on the 20th of May to inspire what Alan later on called “a room full of ignition, possibility and infinite commitment to nature conservation. Future captains.” in a live lecture. 

The latter aspect made Alan’s stories ever more perceptible and deep after what seemed like ages of online lectures. For a bit more than an hour (“The Swiss may have invented the clock, but we invented time”), we ventured through Alans ‘office’ in the Okavango delta, where waters are clean enough to drink from, where time stands still, and where we experience the spirit of Africa, the landscape of the human soul. With humour, deep thoughts, African vibes and sounds, and a wild imagination (perhaps triggering our own), Alan introduced us to ourselves – as despite everything, the only place where inspiration really flows from, is ourselves.

“That what destroys the tree, will destroy the animal, and that what will destroy the animal, will also destroy the men”, and old saying goes. As humans, we are consciously destroying our own habitat; killing for profit and fun, and investing in extinction. There is a psychological and spiritual disconnection from nature – while this is a connection we desperately need now, more than ever before. To heal this split, Alan told and taught us, that we need to reconnect to ourselves, to nature.

We suffer from what Alan calls ‘ecological autism’: we spend most of the time thinking about the past, and worrying about the future. Reconnecting to nature can help us focus on what is happening now. The wilderness experience creates a little bit of distance between the past and the future, and in that distance, you find stillness – there where inspiration and creativity is sown. Even in areas where elephants and lions do not naturally roam around, such as in the indoor garden of the building Alan presented in – there is a wilderness to connect to. With every breath one takes, we are in transaction with trees and plants, with nature – and we desperately need to reconnect with that bit of wilderness within us.

By Janneke Troost