“You must have experienced once in your existence what it makes to live a simple life. Then, you can dream of this moment again; otherwise, we lack reference. Only a personal experience allows us to make informed choices about our actions that can break away from the illusions that fascinate us. This, in my opinion, is the greatest of riches and the true path to authenticity. This inner freedom that we acquire from the moments of grace, and which allows, like the anchor to the anchorage, to create the life that we want to live, and retrace our steps if travelling away from it.
For me, this special moment happened in my childhood, as I was growing up in the high mountain pastures. It was a kind of ideal bubble that has left a lasting mark upon me. The very dearth of material things that are so classical for today’s life like vehicle, telephone, television, shower, neighborhood… lead my family to use its natural talent to make living beautiful. And we had such a wealth of convenience, not being disturbed or pulled in many directions, and harmless from all kinds of pollutions sourcing from transport, including noise and light, advertising or media. This life was also intellectually very rich because, even if we did not have the language of the educated in the current sense, we learned in direct contact of the nature, which is the source that inspires all scientists and artists. What I learned is that, actually, one can be happy by being rich of little, and even of nothing. That’s why I’m fleeing performance and overflow; all these values conveyed by our societies. Why want to own everything, when too much stuff clogs us in the end? It will inevitably lead to abundance and to exaggeration in in every area of our lives, then imbalance is created. We must return to more accuracy and simplicity to go through this life with lightness and control of oneself. And come back to real values!
As soon as we are centering on the here and now, it gives way to gratitude with all the opportunities the present moment offers. We become more aware and appreciate every instant with our 5 senses. Then, we can open ourselves to what is essential to our life balance: nature, tender gestures and right words, surrounded by the beauty of the natural environment. Everything becomes more intense because lived in complete detachment. With my wife, I go to a good restaurant for example from time to time, not to compensate for a lack of the past, but to celebrate life. If everything becomes a habit, we would switch to addiction and there would be no pleasure, even if we consume things very expensive and out of the ordinary.
Nature is the true treasure. Today, thousands of people feel the need to cling to something that is still preserved and undamaged by any transformation, distortion or industrialization. This corner of intact nature allows it. I have never been extreme, but I denounce all those who destroy this natural environment without reason. Whether through excessive activities that make the mountain a playground; or with hunting, a cruel leisure hobby for a minority. Why create the imbalances between species and then act as stewards and custodians of the territories’ biodiversity and even pretend being the first ecologist of France. What an error! Every year, we are limited to what we can do, when hunters arrive by the dozens in some natural spaces, shooting and killing fragile and endangered species, such as alpine ptarmigan, for recreation, falsely presented as management of wildlife species in the territory. I would like us, the photographers, to come together to have an election law, like in Switzerland, that stops this discrimination. If we look at it closer, ignorance is the root of all evil, and there is a real need for building a calm, constructive and fact-based dialogue. To achieve this, it is first necessary to know and understand the phenomena that govern the natural world. How it lives, the forces and laws that are at stake and the interactions between the species, before wanting to act hastily. Man wanted to have dominion over the nature and the living in a personal interest. Therefore, he has forgotten how vulnerable he is and dependent on the heart of nature, since humanity finds its roots and balance there. When we forget that, we go astray and then begins the degradation.
In the end, we should return to a simpler life, and it becomes urgent to find our true nature and take our right place within the ecosystem. There is therefore a path of self-emptying to be made, of purity, an effort towards our innocence that has been lost. And it is by returning to the essential that we become free, and live untied rather than full. It also involves thinking outside the box. I try to do it in my approach to hiking. I go slowly, I travel along routes where we feel good and I avoid talking about sports activities and performances, because everyone should experience what it feels like to be in the mountains; and I adapt to all ages and levels so everyone could have a good time. Yes, modern man needs this contact with nature to find the way to oneself, and live more in harmony with others, with the balance of the natural environment.”
Interview held by Carine Mouradian in Saint Gervais, September 8, 2018
Read also the portrait of Yves Jacquemoud