Since I have gotten sick here in Colorado and taken plenty of time off of the snow, I have been contemplating a few ideas. As I look out the window of my living room in Copper Mountain, I constantly wonder how much water and energy is used to power all of the snow blowers we need to ski this early in the season. I marvel at the physics involved in living at 10,000 feet as we are here—how it contributes to the awful cough that has situated in my lungs, and why it caused Chip’s birthday cake to cave in slightly during the baking process yesterday. But what currently intrigues me most is how I feel safe, warm, and cozy inside of the walls of our condo…how I can look out at nature and feel separate from it; protected from the cold, wind, and snow that is blowing as I type. After finishing the book, “The Story of B” written by Daniel Quinn, I have been pondering my interpretation of the word ‘nature.’ It’s interesting to think that we, as a human culture, have separated ourselves from and view nature as it’s own, separate entity—that we have come to consider it apart from us instead of a part of us. I find this intriguing because nature is not only a part of us, but is us; it is where we came from, where we belong, and where we reside, regardless of whether we realize it or not.
We as a species and like every other species ever existing on earth came from the earth, from what we refer to as ‘nature.’ We, essentially, are nature. I wonder when our culture came to use the word ‘nature’ to describe the outdoors—the uncontrolled, uncivilized world outside of the concrete, industrialized world we live in now. What does ‘natural,’ in the rarest form of the word, truly mean? It’s as if we’ve built this huge, invisible wall between the natural world and us—a wall consisting of the thoughts and ideas that we are distinguishable from nature. This wall protects us from the silent forest in the darkest night, predatory wild animals, and many other frightening (and some life-threatening) things that exist ‘out there.’ What’s strange and fascinating is the fact that we used to be one of those predators in the dark forest in the nip of the night. We used to sleep in caves, hunt and be hunted, and live wildly—the way we consider animals to live now. We used to run through the forests, shoeless and unclothed, yelling and bellowing at other animals with spears in hand and adrenaline in our blood. OH how mysterious, magnificent and terrifying it sounds!!! And then came the discovery of farming and agriculture…
Not until the last 10,000 years have we even attempted to take control of or conquer nature—until the farming agriculture trend swept the earth. Since this agricultural breakthrough, we have understood the natural world to be ours: ours to control (farming, species extinctions, wildlife control, etc), ours to take care of (‘green’ ideas, environmental concerns, wildlife habitats, etc), and ours to behold. The natural world is at our disposal. We take what we want and what we think we need from the earth, and we believe that we have the right to it. Unfortunately, these habits and beliefs are causing us to drain our resources, and it’s mostly due to overpopulation—a touchy subject that I will not venture to explore today. Though it is our inherent instinct to reproduce, the agriculture/farming industry has begun to create an overpopulation obstacle that we are seemingly not going to be able to hop over.
We have gone against our natural animal instincts and have moved inside…and we are taking our children and future generations with us. It is now us against the rest of the world, the rest of the living things. If we can’t conquer and control them, we distance ourselves from them.
And here I am: indoors, looking out of the window, warm in my faux-fur slippers, with tea and my MacBook Pro. Hah! What an animal. You could certainly call me a hypocrite for what I am proposing, but I say we get back out there: take off our shoes, take down our hair, destroy all the concrete, and run around all naked and crazy-like—hunt and gather our food, become again hunted back, and get back to our deepest, instinctual roots. Some day, I believe we’ll return to these undomesticated, uncivilized origins…if not by choice, by force because of depleting resources. For now, I want to build an igloo, pick my apples off of a tree, climb that tree, tackle a squirrel, go romp around some mountains, and sleep by the fire. Outside. In the wild. In nature.