524: James Rebanks, part 1: Pastoral Song
James Rebanks’ first massively bestselling book, The Shepherd’s Life, and the images of that life he posts online, at first make you think he hails from another time. It describes a life both almost unimaginable to most city dwellers like myself and more than half the Earth and traditional, going back centuries or even millennia. He illustrates his relationships with his father and grandfather, the land, the sheep, and history.
But he also shows that he is from now, not another time. I sensed myself out of touch with humanity and nature with plastic and not knowing what trees and birds live near me. In his second book, Pastoral Song, also a massive bestsellr, he describes more his conflict and struggle with the invasion of modernity into his life, his foray into acceptance, and ultimate his joyful rejection of it.
Many of us dream of rejecting the parts of modernity that stultify us but decline to act out of fear. James rejected it, not easy. You’ll love his openness and experiences likely different from anyone you know. When British people talk about the Lake District, they get wistful. I’ve never been there. James is of that territory.
James’s views contrast and complement previous guest James Suzman‘s, who wrote about the San bushmen in the Kalahari Desert. Both speak of living in harmony and balance with nature, struggling at the first world expanding into their territory.
In our conversation, James Rebanks shares his views and experience on nature, family, and his life. I mostly bring people from organizations—businesses, political office, sports teams, etc. James comes from family, farms, and England’s Lake District. He shares a life unlike anyone I met but probably like thousands of my ancestors.