Friday, May 20, 2011

Intimate Harmony with Nature

Being in Nature amidst plants and animals living their lives is a pure, unadulterated Good Thing.

We have evolved to be continuously immersed in a dynamic fractal-layered living process. In fact, we have evolved as part of that process, and it's not finished.

When I was young it was common to speak of people who wanted to "go back to Nature" as escaping from reality.  But it is the natural system which is real, and the human social system which is constructed, at least in part, by the tacit agreement of its participants.

This puzzled me until I began to realize that civilizations operate something like cults and all cults "demonize" the outside systems they are embedded within.

Breaking down the boundaries between our artificial economies and the natural ecologies they are embedded in is a precise physical analog of the psychological experience of giving up the disassociated stance of the modern city dweller for the participatory engagement of the farmer.

Our (tenuous, global) civilization has taken a great, and necessary, detour through a tumultuous land of mental constructs and physical artifacts that has brought us immense knowledge even as it has taken us to the very edge of destruction.

Now we have to "de-program" ourselves from the dysfunctional aspects of our civilization and embrace the role we play in the system of Great Nature.

When you're trying to quit any bad habit it is important to distance yourself from the situations and people who go hand-in-hand with that habit.

How do I love thee? Let me list the ways...
  • Fractal Nature vs. Flat Urban - Pavement and buildings are flat, Nature is made of fractally interlaced fractals at all levels.
  • Chemically clean vs. Nasty Molecules - Nature is made of natural chemicals whereas cities are full of artificial chemicals.
  • Fresh Air vs. Pollution - Nature scrubs the air to an unmatched healthiness and provides high levels of atmospheric oxygen, cities are polluted and have lower oxygen levels.
  • Birdsong and Wind vs. Sirens and Traffic - I am convinced that birdsong and other natural sounds have a beneficial effect even beyond their beauty, while cities make it possible to speak of "noise pollution"!
  • Sun, Moon, and Stars vs. Bulbs and "the Screen" - Sunlight is a nutrient and the cycles of the Sun and Moon (at least) are integral to the rhythms of our lives.  Artificial lighting is a boon but it has also allowed us to break with natural cycles and, in some cases, it can even be bad for you in and of itself.
  • All Living Things vs. Machines and Fake Stone and Dead Wood - In a natural ecosystem pretty much every single "thing" around you is alive or is the detritus of life, even some kinds of stone. In a city (even an extraordinarily verdant one like Seattle) a great deal of the matter around you is "stuck" in the form of buildings, concrete and asphalt, metal and plastic. There are machines, most of which are daft and dangerous. Also cars.
  • Not to mention the "Subtle Energy Fields" et. al.
There are innumerable reasons to live in closer harmony with Nature, but they all stem from a central consideration: we are children of Nature, meant to be a part of it. Living in conceptual opposition to or ignorance of the forces and dynamic patterns of Nature leaves us dissatisfied and ultimately unhealthy.

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