Most of our lives are spent in environments that are functional and lacking in individuality like schools, organizations, or supermarkets. They provide us with food and security but we don’t really develop affectionate bonds with these structures unless we make them more our own with a picture or a plant. Most times these places become an ineffective backdrop to what really matters in our lives.
What really motivates and empowers us are connections to that which we feel a sense of belonging and attachment. Psychiatrist, John Bowlby, came up with an attachment theory in the 1960s which has become a bedrock understanding of the foundation on which human relationships are built. Much of Bowbly’s understandings were launched from life insights from nature. He noticed that birds return to the same place to build their nests year after year, and I have noticed that wild meerkats return to a favorite burrow and wild dogs to a favorite den. Bowbly concludes, “in the same way each man’s environment is unique to himself”.
Philosopher, Simone Weil several decades later agrees with Bowbly’s thinking and says, ‘…to be rooted is perhaps the most important and least recognized need of the human soul”.
It appears that attachment to primary people in our lives, but also to a place where we can put down roots is important to our wellbeing. I think this is one of the reasons why the impact of lockdowns during the covid-19 epidemic was so transformative, people realized the value of spending more time with family and getting out for walks in wild places.