We are in the rainforest of Southern India among the giant roots, the elephant dung, the unidentifiable song, the close heat and the leeches.  These attach themselves unobtrusively and gorge on our blood, transforming their sleek bodies to grotesque inflations of their former selves, clinging to their unwilling hosts with alarming tenacity.  They inhabit the ground of the forest and wait.

We have taken the path down the hillside through the land that has been reclaimed for the rainforest from the vast tea plantations.  All around are the sounds of living creatures, the cries of birds, the crash of the monkeys swinging through the branches and those noises that are identifiable only to those who inhabit that land.

Now we enter the river.  It swirls around our legs pulling strongly as walk against the current.  Our feet are bare and feel the soft mud beneath.  There is a difference to being in the river to that of being on it; on a boat you watch the water pass and the land change shape, whilst in the water you experience the movement and flow, observing the land more slowly and with greater attention.

We are following the path that many young people have taken on their stay in the rainforest.  Here, far away from their city environment, they participate in connecting with the force of nature that is the forest and all the life that it supports.  These children leave comfort and distraction behind and are plunged into an alien life.  However, their response is quickly one of energetic engagement for part of their education is the exploration of the relationship that exists between humanity and the natural world.  This experience, though only temporary, is vital to their understanding of their place in the world.  They discover that their individual existence is as an integral part of all that is living and, consequently, they are less likely to subscribe to the myth that the individual is the centre from which all action takes place.

In our data filled, success driven, judgemental world we are inclined to overlook the ordinary, the unremarkable, the small.  We are exhorted to ‘make a difference’, to ‘be the change’ and to ‘follow our dreams’ – all on a big scale.  These exhortations can make us feel powerless, useless against a tapestry of the charismatic, influential and successful role models set up as both inspirational and signposts of aspiration.  However, when you take a walk in the river your significance is revealed against the backdrop of nature and your existence is no less and no greater than the land that surrounds you and the water than flows past you.