“What I’m trying to say,” Dan hissed at me as he tended to his I-just-lost-a-fight-with-a-mountain wounds, “is that I love nature, but I’m not a fan of wilderness.” In uttering these words, my best friend here joined the ranks of many who also lay claim to such a love hate relationship.
They love nature in so much as they can admire it from afar.
- Oh! Aren’t those mountains gorgeous?
- Would you look at that tree line? It makes you want to just take a picture.
- Who wants to watch the discovery channel?
They love nature in so much as it can be controlled.
- Your landscaping looks marvelous. Just don’t forget to trim those branches when they get too close to the property line.
- Pandas are going extinct?! Instead of letting them die out like the other millions of species that have come and gone, let’s throw them in zoos, force them to mate, and charge people to come see. Watch Ling Ling eat bamboo everybody!
They love nature so long as it is out there where nature should be, or monitored under tight control, and not interfering with the day to day.
I don’t know at what point humanity started considering itself to be something outside of nature, but it began long before I got here. I was born into a world where there’s an overwhelming sense of separation. Disconnect from that which is natural and that which is human.
Are you kidding me?
Even with all of our bungalows, skyscrapers, cars, boats, planes, air conditioning, running water, electricity, industrial progress, politics, religion, scientific understanding (ha!), and our ever important self awareness…we cannot ever be more than animals. Face it folks, it’s just not possible. We are just another species who, like all those before and undoubtedly after us, will have its time in the spotlight. But sooner or later, we’ll fall prey to the cycle of nature and be forced to recognize that we are in no way above or apart from it all. We are in fact only a tiny part of a rather large and impressive picture.
I think we knew this once. We must have just forgotten.
Yesterday, I discovered that I have a mouse living in my car. He’s apparently been hitch hiking with me for quite some time, but this is the first time I saw him leave a trail of destruction (in the form of tattered tissues and rice sized poop, no less). I caught a glimpse of him as I dug up my trunk. He’s actually very tiny and cute. So of course I felt a small ping of guilt as I ripped up and threw away his little nest home. And I actually struggled a bit before I finally decided to set up some traps for the little dude.
It is this ability to think, and in many cases over think, that makes humanity what it is. We are creatures that will kill one another for intangible reasons but take pause before killing a little mouse. Do you imagine other creatures think us strange?
In the end, I chose to get the traps. They were as humane as I could find and afford, but nevertheless I purchased them with the intent to kill. I will defend what I claim to be mine. My territory, my mobile home, will be protected. I truly am an animal.
So what am I rambling about?
Mother Nature is beautiful, violent, and chaotic. She is balanced and self correcting. She is both larger than I can imagine and smaller than I can see. She is neither cruel nor kind. She heals and destroys. She shakes the foundations beneath our feet, rains down fire from the center of the earth, breathes hurricanes the size of countries, and swallows the land with the sea. She makes viruses that attack the very heart of our immune system and bacteria that help to keep us safe. She births all manner of plant and creature, but not without defect. She is indiscriminate and unforgiving in her action.
And she is how you are able to read these words right now. The electricity that powers your computer, the breath that sustains your life, and the eyes with which you see are just as much nature as anything you see on the horizon.
Nature is not some far away thing. And the wilderness, I’m sorry to break this to you Dan, is indistinguishable from the rest.
So if you are to love nature, love all of her. And know that one way or another, she’ll get you in the end. After all, that is her way.
Happy Monday, you animals!