The loss of meaning is the loss of relationship, with ourselves, with others, with the world at large. In the early twentieth century, Martin Buber wrote about the ways in which humans interact with their existence. The I- and-It inclination treats everything as an object, including our own person, which can be used in some manner and/or is a sensory experience. The I-and-Thou mindset sees the interconnection of all things because there are no divisions of consequence. This was called to mind while I pondered this question. To have a symbolic perspective is to be in relationship with the thou and to lose it is to be cut off from that relationship, to be deprived of relationship with the self and in turn with everything around the self. Detached from this and we become unmoored from meaning and the experience of life is more difficult to bear.
Our age is one which lists, catalogs, and describes things, even the processes of our inner worlds, as separate and distinct and treat symbols as the excess material dumped into daydreams and night-dreams to clear the way for consciousness. This attitude leads us culturally to regard the earth not as a mother who nurtures and sustains us, and to which we are duty-bound to love and protect, but as an object over which we have dominion and can utilize until all its resources are stripped. The results of this unfortunate loss of symbolic perspective created an increasingly toxic environment. The loss of meaning via the loss of the symbol is evinced in an actual loss of habitability. In the end, an I-and-Thou relationship with nature, summoned by a return to the soul of nature, will reconnect us to our indivisibility from it and back, again, to ourselves.