My Octopus Teacher director calls for people to embrace their wildness

How can we reclaim our wildness in a world that wants us to be so tame?

That is the question asked by Craig Foster – the Academy Award-winning director of the documentary My Octopus Teacher – in his new book, Amphibious Soul.

A decade ago, tired of the city life, Foster returned to his birthplace, the Cape of Good Hope in South Africa, and began diving every day.

What he experienced beneath the waves informed the writing of his book, which calls for people to reconnect with nature for the sake of themselves and the planet.

Foster told Nights that people in the modern world were often detached from or disengaged with the natural world, which led to greater pollution and environmental degradation.

“As soon as you disconnect, you can do horrific things that people in the past who were connected to nature would never consider doing.”

He believed it was also having a negative impact on people’s mental health.

Hundreds of thousands of years ago, humans had “incredible, powerful” relationships with scores of animals and plants, he said.

“Now imagine your primary relationship is with a cellphone and a computer and maybe a few people. What is that going to do to your psyche?

“We need to find a balance … There’s a wild person and a tame person in all of us, [and] the tame person is totally smothering that wild person.”

While Foster himself reconnected with nature – or ‘rewilded’ – through diving, he said that might not suit everyone – it was just about “pushing one’s limits outside” in some way.

Other methods of reconnecting could be to collect plants and rocks, or to simply spend time observing animals from out of the kitchen window.

“The average child today can tell you 1000 brand names of different companies that sell you products, but they can’t tell you five animals that live in their backyard,” he said.

“What it does to the psyche is it disconnects, and we have this great age of loneliness … but when u start to know five animals, know a little bit about them, know their predators, their prey, suddenly you get a sense of belonging in this world.”

Foster praised indigenous people across the world for their connection to and stewardship of nature.

According to the World Economic Forum, indigenous people made up less than five percent of the global population, but protected 80 percent of Earth’s remaining biodiversity.

“That’s … what we need to recover,” Foster said.

“We have so much to learn from these indigenous people.”

He also said ‘rewilding’ did not have to mean giving up creature comforts, like technology and cosy homes – it was all about people finding a balance between their ‘wild’ and ‘tame’ sides.

When that occurred, “life is so much more joyful and more interesting and more connected”, he said.

According to the news on Radio New Zealand

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