I was listening to the TED radio hour on NPR and heard this man talk about “Rewilding“. He spoke about how, long ago, wolves wondered around Yellowstone national park. At some point, they were all hunted down and eradicated. 70 years later, the deer population had grown uncontrollably and were destroying vegetation and causing lots of problems in the park. In an effort to reduce their population their natural predator, the wolf, was re-introduced in small numbers as an experiment in a process called “Rewilding”.
These wolves hunted down deer for food, so their population did go down, but what they didn’t expect was all the other results from this one small change.
Because the deer was being hunted, they stopped roaming in places they could easily be trapped, like the valleys & gorges, and the vegetation in those areas regrew almost 5 folds. Due to the increase in vegetation there was in influx of smaller animals like beavers and birds that live off the trees. The wolves also killed some coyotes, which meant more rabbits and other smaller animals could survive more successfully, and even provided more food for larger animals like bears and foxes.
It even changed the flow of the streams. The influx of the beavers brought in beaver damns, allowing more aquatic animals to move in like frogs and ducks. The new stream activities, slowed the flow of the rivers reducing the bank erosion that had been threatening the rivers. The growth in vegetation also helped sure-up the river banks and made them more stable and more resistant to erosion. This also improved the fish population, and so on and so forth…
What I got from this was that
- By re-introducing this animal back to its natural habitat, the whole ecosystem, that was somewhat dying was now thriving.
- At some point, they had attempted to solve all these problems they were having individually (problems with the deer, the erosion, disappearance of good vegetation), dealing with the symptoms and not the cause. While, dealing with the whole ecosystem produced remarkable results in all these areas.
Ecosystems are self-regulating organisms that are either living/thriving or dying. So is every human.
This then got me thinking about myself as an immigrant to the United States and how I took myself out of one ecology, and plopped myself into another and how difficult that transition has been for me. Moving here, I have had to deal with a lot of different issues, both physical and emotional that I had never had to deal with or actually seen anyone deal with.
Like in my first year, I remember all my hair falling out, things were out of balance and I didn’t know what. Was it the weather, the water, the food, or all of the above? I also remember being really broke for the first time ever. I realized that in Nigeria, whenever I felt cash poor, I’ll just go visit a few aunties & uncles (those that were obligated to give me cash as a parting gift), or go to a party where I could get sprayed (we have a tradition of showering cash on people on the dance floor, seriously). In later years, I had issues with weight, hair loss, skin, happiness, finance, social awkwardness and many others.
I had been introduced to a new ecosystem and I had to find my place in it. This whole wellness journey has been a quest to find my way back to balance in this new world I’m in. It’s like I had to relearn everything, how to eat, how to socialize, how to be financially secure or what lifestyle to adopt. Because, a lot of what I had learnt and however I had lived back home, wasn’t working for me here. I now see that those who are most likely to thrive in any environment are those whose families have been there for generations and have figured out how to exist in harmony within it. They have cultivated new customs, lifestyles and diets to meet their needs and bring balance to their lives.
So, how can I “rewild” myself? Do I have to reintroduce myself to my old ecology or can I find a way to exist in balance and harmony with this new one? Is my approach of dealing with issues, one problem at a time effective? Do I need to step back and look at the bigger picture? Is there a small change I could introduce that will help fix other problems?
Will I ever find my place in this new world? I sure hope so…
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