ecophilia — What happens when we outgrow our shell?

What happens when we outgrow our shell?

Once upon a time, I felt out of the dominant philosophy of my culture. I was no longer interested in entertainment, in material achievement, in great adventures that require a lot of natural resources, or in pursuing a career. The way of life that I inherited from previous generations no longer satisfied me.

That’s when a sense of meaninglessness kicked into my awareness.

The dominant philosophy was dead to me.

Yet, despite its death, when a philosophy dies, its shell remains. What leaves is the energy and the aliveness that makes a philosophy worthwhile. What was once a shrine becomes a shelter. What was once a prayer becomes a habit. What was once a ceremony becomes an obligation. What was once a pilgrimage becomes a hike. What was once a philosophy to live by becomes a shell of pretends without substance.

Like a hermit crab that leaves its shell because it becomes too small, too confined, and doesn’t quite fit anymore, I am searching for a new shell to replace the old.

I want my new shell to be alive by showing me a way of life, a lifestyle, and a structure to live by daily. I want my new shell to turn every obligation into a ceremony, every habit into a prayer, every hike into a pilgrimage, and every shelter into a shrine.

And I want my new shell to fit the circumstances: to relate me to the living processes that surround me, humans, nonhumans, the land, the biosphere, the geosphere. If I cannot relate my psyche to these processes, the philosophy is dead. It can no longer connect me to my world, but instead disconnects me from it. In such a relationship, no resonance is possible. As Hartmut Rosa explains

“resonance can be defined as a form of world-relation, in which subject and world meet and transform each other. The emergence of resonance is possible only through affection and emotion, intrinsic interest and expectation of self-efficacy, entailing the construction of a meaningful, dynamic, and transformative rapport between actors and their environment”.

Resonance can only be experienced if the shell fits, if the philosophy that connects to the world is alive.

When existing philosophies cease to be alive, we also cease to be in resonance with the world, the result is that we experience a sense of meaninglessness.

The process of recreating a philosophy is a process of trial and error. I haven’t found an existing one that satisfies my needs. I believe the future will be a meshwork of individual philosophies. Maybe this will look like a beach full of shells: From far away, they appear to be one Gestalt: a beach; from close by, each differs from the other. As Arne Naess, I would rather encourage everyone to develop and spell out their philosophy of life and worldview that reconnects them to themselves and the world in a way that resonance is experienced.

Have a good weekend,


PS: I also write short snippets of “wisdom” daily (including collages).



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Jessica Böhme

Jessica Böhme


transformation researcher & ecological storyteller. exploring ecophilia as a lived philosophy. latest book: