The four seasonal directions of human nature, in their complex, yet simple, interaction, form the basis of an eco-psychology which redefines traditional psychologies that are based on human experience apart from nature. The shields of human nature turn with the experiences of life, from the smallest cell to the great seamless whole of the biosphere called earth. It begins with the body (summer), turns into psyche (fall), becomes activated form (winter), which dissolves into spirit (spring) — which is born again in the body (summer). We will use the work of Stephen Foster and Meredith Little, founders of the School of Lost Borders, to guide our exploration.
Telling one’s own story is an ancient art. Nowadays, we have forgotten how to listen and how to tell. Yet the very survival of our species depends on our ability to communicate with each other in such ways as to be mutually enriched by the telling and the listening. If we cannot tell with expression, our life is mute. If we cannot listen like a mirror, we cannot reflect back the wholeness of the four shields — the body, soul, mind and spirit of the teller. The best stories are about human nature — that is, the human of us which is, after all, nature in her basic manifestations as physical, psychical, rational, and spiritual. One of the best ways to create a four shields story, if not the best, is to put people in contact with nature in the raw.
What comes forth in the story is the stuff of self-transformation. Even as we “myth” ourselves into experience, so we express ourselves into existence. Our stories about our natural selves, and our means of expressing them, lead us to courage, determination, commitment, hope, wisdom, and the will to survive, to transcend the difficulty, to go beyond ourselves. Those of us who work with people must know how to listen and respond to the stories our people tell, so that we can help them create a life that is deeper, richer, and of greater benefit to our community and the earth.