Here I am. In the present. Growing food organically, biodynamically, in the heart of a thriving marsh ecosystem in the deep, dense coastal range of South Georgia. I rise in the early, cool mornings to the light awakenings of the birds fluttering and chattering as if the music of their songs brings the sun up across the horizon to begin another day. The coastal breezes aren't enough to sway my body like the tops of the tall Pines. It is too dense with tissues, blood, bones, thoughts. Too heavy to be carried effortlessly in the breeze like the leaves of the Live Oaks and the almost lifeless, weightless fingerlings of the Spanish Moss. The way my curls of hair catch in the whispers of the wind is about as close to flying as my human form can get.
The marsh is alive. More so than most any place I have ever been. I can take my clumsy morning steps towards the farm and pass several different kinds of amphibians, birds, reptiles, mammals, and a list of insects so long, it could wrap circles around the sun. I spend much of my time outside of trying to grow food in the marsh, trying to grow a connection to it. It is absolutely incredible to realize that all of us, all creatures on this planet, are sharing the same resources and evolving in turn to be more specific, more concentrated on this niche or that to increase our chances at survival. It is unfortunate to realize in that same thought how our broad, sprawling evolution into most any niche has contributed to the destruction of many of these sanctuaries and the end of the road for many of these creatures.
Many times, human beings find themselves believing so much in the success and accomplishments of their own kind that they fail to acknowledge their part in the greater society of living beings on Planet Earth. Our minds are so riddled with emotions and morality that we can sometimes get caught up in the mastery of the forms we have created. We take science as law, medicine as health, and our own interpretations of life, history, and progress as having been written in the stars. We find our habits to be above those of any other living creature and our desires as if they have been stewed in some melting pot of divine longings.
But lets step back a minute. Take a step outside of ourselves, maybe above ourselves as if we were looking down at an Antler Beetle or a patch of Jewel Weed, waterside. Here we are, this squishy, naked creature with a giant head and these hands so capable of manipulating resources. We need food to eat, the healthier the food source, the better, and we need clean water to drink. We need shelter from the elements, a bath (now and again,) and a place to do our "business" that isn't close to where we feed. This all seems consistent with a lot of beings on life, even Antler Beetles. Still not convinced? There's more..
Violence, ingenuity, sex, territories, crime, monogamy, infidelity, intolerance, compassion, nurturing, social order, civilization, consciousness, greed, gluttony, intelligence, understanding, communities, domestication (just to name a few.) When we think about the modern day dramas carried out by our species, we think of them as being very human, evolved matters of the mind. In reality these conflicts, bumps in the road, disorder, order, the beauty and the beast are all very common themes in the intricate pathways of nature. To assume that humans are the only creatures defensive enough about the differences in race and belief structure to go to war is to assume that nothing else in nature battles for the better passage of its kind. Every creature on this planet has the will to survive and has the intuitive knowledge that where there are more creatures like it, the likelihood of its own survival and that of its offspring heightens.
Our human ordeals are the same dramas carried out on different levels of consciousness throughout our marshes, woodlands, lakes, and oceans. To assume that we are the only life that is so inextricably complex is to walk through the world with our eyes closed. The beauty of our species lies not in how different it is from other creatures in nature, but in how it is actually so closely connected.
When humans are at their best, they are compassionate, considerate, artistic and capable of incredible feats of intellect and creativity. We are strong and so incredibly aware. It is only when we forget that our trials and tribulations are just natural order and disorder magnified by our consciousness that we begin to do unconscious things. The inconceivable scale of communication and the exchange of goods has us not only believing in the systems we have created wholeheartedly, but also being enslaved by them.
You do not have to view yourself as a wild beast (thought I kind of like to,) to acknowledge that you are a complicated, nowhere near perfect, ever-evolving organism in a very messy, changing world. Our concerns and efforts are all born out of a few very powerful, basic instincts. With our incredible hands and minds we should be able to manipulate change out of these destructive wasteful habits we have become so tied to and back into a world where our day to day dramas are more mixed and mingled with those of other species. If we are such an animal superpower, than it should be clear to us that the elimination of most life on Earth will not contribute to the indefinite continuation of ourselves.
Change starts when things don't work. It starts many times in anger, fear, frustration and blossoms into hope, determination, and passion. The state of our world will remain hopeless if we don't start within ourselves. Our current political climate, the globalization of words, products, and powers, and the capitalistic endeavors of our societies will continue to enslave our people and retain order in a system that is causing disorder in all of the natural systems in the world. The almighty dollar has been in charge of our happiness, health, intentions, and judgments for far too long. It is time for us to take responsibility for ourselves, acknowledge that we are just animals trying to survive and that survival would be much easier if we considered our relationships to the natural world and to each other.
Occupy Wall Street and the other occupations sprouting up in this country and beyond are beacons of hope in a world distressed and devalued. If we can figure out how to treat ourselves better, to put love where money has placed indifference and hatred, there may be a time when strong human communities reunite with the woods and waterways they've been severed from. The best you can do today is to support the 99% whether in protest or in priorities. If we all lived our lives outside of the economic guidelines of this country, we would be a force so powerful that stealing our money would be last on Wall Street's morning "to do" list.
"I believe all suffering is caused by ignorance. People inflict pain on others in the selfish pursuit of their happiness or satisfaction. Yet true happiness comes from a sense of peace and contentment, which in turn must be achieved through the cultivation of altruism, of love and compassion, and elimination of ignorance, selfishness, and greed." -- His Holiness the Dalai Lama