I wake to sleep and take my waking slow. / I learn by going where I have to go —Theodore Roethke


’m Trevor Goward and I begin with a question: Which of the four mug shots taken at different times in my life is the real me?

The answer, if you ask me, is none of them. Indeed, the real me – and the real you, come to that – is not the person who’s eyes you peer into, rather it’s the person who lives behind those eyes and peers out at you.

young Trevor Goward
Trevor Goward in 1980 by Andy MacKinnon
Trevor Goward by Vivian Miao in 2000
Trevor Goward by James Holkko in 2020

In my case, probably the best way in is to consider the kinds of things I most attend to:

Let’s look at these.

My interest in lichens began as a form of apprenticeship to the Living World – the importance to a born naturalist of knowing one group of living things very well – but gradually upgraded to Ways of Enlichenment which, as I now use the term, encompasses the powerful utility of lichens as helpmates to a much-needed conceptual cross-over from life-denying Enlightenment values to life-affirming Enlivenment ones.

Canine friendship began in simple companionship but later became: first, a (quite astonishing) form of communion with a species whose grandmother was our grandmother 300 million years ago; second, a form of extended meditation on the numberless possible ways of experiencing the Living World; and third, more recently, catalyst to what I now understand as a sine qua non imperative for expanded pragmatics.

My interest in game trails began as a tracking exercise one winter of little snow, but later led: first, to long contemplation of the mind of the deer who with their trowel-like hooves fashion them; second, as Willder Trails, to their doubtless outsized role in leading Homo sapiens out of Africa and, eventually, around the world; and third, through that, to a sense of their inherent interactive power, as Paths of the Elders, to lead us “home,” that is, in what I currently understand as the deepest possible denotation of that word.

My exploration of the Forests of Home began as part of my inborn naturalist imperative for knowing my home place, though in time it transmogrified: first, to Island Earth, understood as the Living World in miniature, an entirety complete in itself; second, to a putting down of roots, that is, a process of indigenization, of becoming coextensive with place; and third, through this, to a personal upgrade from environmentalism to Gaianism.

My advocacy for the Caribou who wander the mountains hereabouts, began as an attempt to counter the gradual loss of wilderness values preserved in my home valley, but eventually transformed to the insight that building a future for the living things of this world, our children included, requires more than just head understanding, it also requires heart understanding, that is, learning to care about the Living World itself – an insight now bedrock to the Edgewood Wild project as a whole.

My entry into the mythic world of J.R.R. Tolkien began as time out from neoliberalism gone rogue and social intercourse gone angry – compared with which Middle Earth was of course balm for the soul. Yet it wasn’t the balm that kept me going back for more, but rather Tolkien’s “the silence that broods behind all things” insight, namely, that the Living World actively participates in the unfolding of human destiny – a core insight of Indigenous belief systems, and one now being brought everywhere to light by the Climate Crisis.

Oddly, though, it was time spent in Middle Earth that led me to reflect on my lived experience of the Living World itself, that is, as a world filled with Gaian agency, and to that extent alive – an insight I later encoded in the term Living World That Sustains Us, my (timely) replacement for the word nature.

Looking at these accounts, and thinking back, I find I’m forcibly struck by how each of my personal obsessions has led to insights and understandings far beyond my initial terms of engagement with them. To me this rather looks like something more than just a pattern, call it destiny whispering in my ear.

You see where I’m going with this, don’t you. My advice to young born naturalists is not to agonize, as I did, about what to focus on. Simply take up whatever’s nearest to hand – birds, bees, leaves in the trees, whatever – turn it this way and that, learn its ins and outs, read about it, make some original observations of your own, all the while knowing that diligent attention will sooner or later make audible whatever’s being whispered in your own ear. For Roethke’s quite right, I think, when he reminds us, as I often remind myself, that we learn by going where we have to go.

For the rest, there’s really not much to tell. I was born in October 1952, am 5′ 16″, right-hemispheric, left-handed, left-footed, left-eyed, gangly, gawky and gay. Though basically hale and hearty, I’m occasionally beset by bouts of an auto-immune disease that, fortunately for me, keep me close to home. Or, to put the matter telegraphically, I’m Trevor Goward but that’s my problem.

Further biographic nuts and bolts are given here, while a publications summary can be linked to here.

Next up: Valley Notebook