Man as Nature and Acceptance as a Path

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Indigenous cultures understood that man was part of nature.  How far we have wandered from that understanding … to evolve into a creature that deems, or dreams, himself outside the constructs of the natural world, in effect, defining himself as somehow superior to all other creatures and capable of framing his world in any terms he chooses.  The problem lies in man’s failure to understand and accept that he is inextricably linked to nature and he too, like all things, is subject to its laws.  Like the elements, all life and man, Nature is a process and God lies in the wisdom of this process.  Man has yet to fully accept the process.

All creatures survive by procreation and predation.  In life’s quest for itself, we are often pawns of biological rhythms and instincts; and so, mankind envisions himself capable of rising above this all too ‘sordid’ affair.  In this effort, he fails to acknowledge and accept essential qualities of life and, as a consequence, loses sight of vital solutions.

Chance and change, movement, the nature of life.  There is no life without death or night without day.  We rush foolishly to our own destruction when we deny the very truths of existence.  In fear of our own mortality and searching for eternity, man has wandered from the natural world and lost himself.

I am.  In these two words, a world, a universe.  Acceptance is everything, and life is born of this first step.  Judgments tend to separate us, categorize and catalog us, negate qualities in some and elevate those in others, in the end doing us all injustice.  In our unreasonable search for perfection, we often fail to see the beauty before our eyes, in our fellow man and miss countless opportunities.

Nature seeks balance and evolves perpetually based on outcomes.  Watch an otter whose catch has been taken by a coyote.  He complains and fights, as long as there is a chance he might prevail.  In the end, he accepts the outcome and begins another hunt, no wailing that life is unfair or questioning his very existence.  He is simply accepting the facts and the flow of life.  Man is the only creature that perpetually refuses to accept natural outcomes, including himself.  He builds dams in an effort to control the river and succeeds in destroying its essence.

Mankind’s egoism and lack of understanding perpetuate greed and destruction, like an allergic reaction attacking the body as if it were the enemy instead of a wellspring.  He searches for the ideal beyond existence while the real prize unfolds before him every day, every moment.  In this quest driven by fear, he misses the only perfection that life holds.  Is he afraid that in a moment of clarity he may discover his true self, that he, after all, is no better or worse than any other animal, a wave on the shore, or the moon in its perpetual cycle?

A friend once asked, rhetorically: “Why was anything forbidden in Eden if God had created a perfect world?’  A world in utter completeness and balance, the “perfect” world does not exist.  As soon as any balance has been achieved, life requires its undoing and in the end, we are unable to appreciate, in essence, the rose.  We remain fixed on an idea of beauty as if it were a finite definable everlasting thing.  Melancholy sits beside us while we contemplate how fleeting beauty and impossible the dream.  In our sorrow and our unwillingness to accept Nature, we miss the symphony.

Man falls into a trap on this path.  He cannot accept failure in his search for Eden, and cannot accept that this search is based on a false premise.  Seeking balance is a natural phenomenon but it becomes a problem when the search focuses on perfection as a static, narrowly defined commodity.  Man cannot own the dream and so he becomes contemptuous of himself for this perceived failure.  Where he might instill love and promote cooperation, acceptance, he fosters doubt, hate and fear, continuing a cycle of violence with dismal futures for the planet.  Mankind spirals down a path of destruction and self-hate, missing true potentials in his brothers and sisters since he is loath to see these same potentials in himself.

How do we define success in life?  Is it based on some narrow precept, or has it been fitted with tolerance and love, with the knowledge that not all is perfect, least of all Mankind?  Does it come with acceptance that the dance is a product of imbalance and imperfection, an understanding that at any moment, to be aware, to be alive is success itself?  In our search for something outside of reality, we miss all that truly matters!

In our determination to make distinctions, we judge ourselves superior to the natural world and surmise that “improvements” to all things can be made through man’s inventions.  We can never create anything outside of nature; and since no positive change is possible without truth, self-awareness is crucial.  The belief that our species trumps all others and rises above the forces of nature, that we can circumvent these forces defies all logic.  Simply observe.  For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.  Within this framework, life is movement from one state of being to another; and man’s machinations are subject to no less.  If we fail to respect our true selves, the natural instincts that created man and the imperfections implicit in all life, the world created from our ignorance will not be fit for life.

Man alters natural codes that took millennia to evolve.  He splits atoms and leaves the waste to pollute the earth.  He destroys mountaintops and calls the product “clean coal”, pollutes our seas with oil, our air and earth with its derivatives and calls it necessary.  In a rush to glean the resources of this planet, he makes choices based on profit rather than sanity and sustainability.  Man, in his renegade actions, refuses to practice common sense and beats a path of environmental ruin.  He is a hurricane with the potential to change course through self-awareness and respect, perhaps; but, we may never know, without the recognition that we are all part and parcel of this natural world.

Our life’s safari involves a hunt for more than food and shelter.  Like all living things, we reach for light and that light is in us all.  All Nature moves beyond the mundane in this dimension.  Birds sing at dawn.  Squirrels collect articles that have no practical use – like items in a child’s pocket.  All creatures appreciate beauty, and, like the otter, recognize truth.  For what is truth but a natural outcome, and beauty the same?  Our fate may very well be determined by our relationship to this process and our respect for truth.

In our quest to define a world in defiance of natural laws, mankind is racing down an incline blindfolded, without brakes and fully loaded.  Venturing into abstraction, we stretch the bounds of reality by searching for meaning beyond existence and perverting a basic instinct for beauty into a dogged search for perfection and for immortality, without understanding or respect for the nature of all things.  While we strive to realize our dreams, it would be wise to keep a watchful eye on the road, do proper maintenance, and obey the laws of physics, at least.

Inseparable from the natural world, man finds his dawn in beauty, but beauty is not a static ideal.  It is the well from which all life drinks, ever-changing, dynamic, boundless and perfect in its imperfection, an essential quality of life.  Acceptance, born of tolerance and truth, synchronizes with immutable forces that create and sustain life, in essence, the only Eden possible.

 

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Author: Anita Suzanne Dedman-Tillemans

For love of wilderness.