In his book Disconnect and Live (original title: Desconéctate y vive (2019), Spanish author Víctor Martín Font invites you to abandon urban life for a second and delve into nature, as it has all the answers. Growing up in a small village nearby the French Pyrenees, Font became in tune with nature and everything organic. He worked for eleven years as a falconer in Barcelona’s airport and later went on to create his own company Disconnections, where through nature he helps both companies and individuals to flourish and become whole.
Written in a simple language that is engaging and easy to follow, Font shares his personal experiences and emphasises how our own are equally important to turn us into self-sufficient individuals. He believes that information provided by guides and self-help books could confuse being impersonal and irrelevant.
One of the chapters that I enjoyed most was the one dedicated to animals that taught him important life lessons. He lists animals that he’d either worked with or kept as pets including dogs, ferrets, geese, different raptors and a crow.
The name of each animal and the lesson learned are used as a title (e.g.: Urpa: to pardon). Some of the stories are heartbreaking, especially the ones where raptors were killed either by cars or hunters. Others are fascinating mainly when it comes to training falcons and the bond forged between trainer and bird.
Font also points out how urban life had killed our innate relationship with nature and the instinct and intuition we had. But how could nature cure this? One of the activities that the participants in Font’s programs do is by switching off their mobile phones and removing their watches before starting a walk into the forest or climbing a mountain.
According to him, these activities – or any other nature-involving ones like sitting still watching the sunset- helps re-gain the inner-equilibrium and hence instinct and intuition. Font shares funny yet eye-opening professional experiences, especially when dealing with Nomophobics and city dwellers who wonder if canyons and meadows were natural or artificially designed by a landscaper.
Even better; if the vegetables grown on his farm are as good as the ones sold in the supermarket. Another fascinating experience shared is of him living with a native tribe in the heart of Amazon for weeks, learning the importance of close-knitted community life- especially for children- and how the concept of time in a tribe is perceived as seasons.
Font is also a keen observer of current technological advancement and highlights its many disadvantages that affect children and parents alike such as overloading them with unnecessary information that causes anxiety and depression over time. Moreover, technology dependence had made children anti-social, overweight and deprived them of a normal inquisitive childhood were playing and outdoor activities are essential for healthy growth.
In the last chapter of the book, Font invites the readers to try different activities that puts them directly in touch with nature, such as visiting the beach or strolling in the park (detachment from your phone before the activity is necessary. Sorry!). While doing this, pay attention to your surroundings. Learn about the local flora and fauna surrounding you (i.e., what type of plant is in front of you? And that bird singing at a distance?).
Continue immersing yourself in the experience by sitting still and practising mindfulness, take all the time needed for gratification to start flowing. And how would that help you? The answer lies in the quote that ends the book: “In that silence, you can hear a very familiar voice that you’d never felt”.
Rasha al Raisi is a certified skills trainer
and the author of: The World According to Bahja. firstname.lastname@example.org