A Neglected Relationship

Ishmael by Daniel Quinn is the latest book I’ve been reading. It’s a philosophical conversation between a gorilla, Ishmael, and this other human dude. Awesome.

Their conversation is about the world–how things came to be this way.

This book gets at the question I ask the air and myself all the time: why do we destroy the earth? It goes beyond just hippie-dippie bullshit of recycling and hugging trees—why do we destroy what we need to live?

Because humans view the world as something to be conquered. Often times, aggressive, war language is used to describe our relationship to nature or wilderness: subdue, control, contain, deplete, drain.

We don’t view ourselves as a part of the natural world. It’s over there; we are over here. Animals are in the wild or are kept as pets–tamed, domesticated, controlled.

We are animals too. 

We think we are king of the hill, and no one can take that away. But climate change is threatening our dominion on earth because the earth could become uninhabitable and humans have to accept the fact we should’ve shared, or at least thought about, letting other creatures on the hill with us.

Change is scary, though. From small things like going off to college, to losing your friends that graduate, to your parents getting a divorce, to a break-up, and big things like war, civilian unrest, and a changing climate. It’s the fear of the unknown.

The thing that helps me the most in times of change and uncertainty is to Inhale and Exhale, to breathe. Breathe in, and breathe out, trying to root myself to the present moment, the things, smells, textures, tastes around me.

It pulls me out of my own head where thoughts can turn into a drowning torrent of stress and doubt and made-up scenarios in seconds. Sometimes the current of thoughts is numbing and simply unseeing, unaware. When I draw my awareness back to the present, away from the murky future or scrolls of my thoughts, I suddenly notice what’s in front of me.

If I never noticed the natural, wild things around myself, I probably wouldn’t be writing this blog or touching mushrooms.

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