A friend just said she sees nature as a reflection of herself, and also herself as a reflection of nature. For her, the soil they walk by every day by the field is a fertile ground, and a reflection of herself as a fertile ground in which things can grow… the soil needs to be replenished and restored, nutrients must make their cycles and water run through the soil – just like we as humans need continuous input of things and these conditions determine largely what the quality of life will be. Plants that she observes remind her of herself. At times, plants do well, especially when they grow on good soil and have the right nutrients, enough water and light. Sometimes they go through hard times, and may blossom and thrive again when conditions are right. Indeed, this friend often feels she’s like a flower, or a bird of paradise, right in her place and in need of certain few essentials that will keep her going. But that she’s learning more and more of what really is needed to truly thrive, and she learns a lot about this through observing nature… To see these things around us, and see what other creatures also need for their survival and thriving, is a wonderful way to reflect on oneself and on one’s place in this world.
Indeed, nature has always been an inspiration for poets, philosophers, scientists.. after all it is all around us. What differs between individuals is what kind of eyes we have for the various things around us.
Steven Kotler in his book “A Small Furry Hope” interestingly summarizes research on the evolution of human-animal relationship. He speaks of how humans have interacted with animals so intricately since probably the dawn of (human) time that these interactions have over the time altered the very physical as well as spiritual being of ourselves and our animal companions… He ponders on the question of why humans in some societies consider certain animals as sacred. One reason that is suggested is that animals were always there as the first points of comparison. We’ve probably always looked around and learnt about ourselves through observing those around, and apart from other humans, those around have ever mostly been animals, plants and other representatives of the natural world. We have pondered what is similar in them as in us, and what is different.. we have learnt from them and through them.
And so even today, many of us keep doing these comparisons and reflecting.
How are we then currently evolving? Always changing, where are we as humans going right now… We do reflect on nature and its things for sure, but how about people living in the cities; aren’t the comparison points rather different? What kind of influence will it in the long term have on the human brain and cognitive functions that people in many current societies have the advancements of technology and digital reality as their daily reference points.. Sure enough, these things have been around for a very short time in the very course of human history, and yet, it is interesting to ponder what all of our current actions mean for the future of this species of human beings.
Human beings, we are called, and some say that this should be a great reminder of what we all are actually about; we are not called human doings, which might be an apt description taken the extent to which so many people today swear to the name of achievement, over-working, ambition and material wealth, just to name a few things that sometimes do become issues. Instead we are called human beings which maybe refers to the fact that there is more to humanness than only doing (we of course only survive because we do things).. an existence that doesn’t require or imply anything else than what it is.
Or, to make a link back to being inspired by and reflecting on oneself through nature’s things, the character Big Friendly Giant in a film named after him had a way of speaking rather unlike proper English, and he thus had come to call human beings human beans. That’s not so far from what we are, actually, is it..! Just little human beans that need a little water, light and nutrients, and preferably some love, to grow big and healthy…
Here are some poems and quotes that compare humans with nature, or are inspired by nature, for those who like to read:
“One touch of nature makes the whole world kin.”
WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE, Troilus and Cressida
“There is new life in the soil for every man. There is healing in the trees for tired minds and for our overburdened spirits, there is strength in the hills, if only we will lift up our eyes. Remember that nature is your great restorer.”
CALVIN COOLIDGE, speech, Jul. 25, 1924
“God made the forests, the tiny stars, and the wild winds–and I think that he made them partly as a balance for that kind of civilization that would choke the spirit of joy out of our hearts. He made the great open places for the people who want to be alone with him and talk to him, away from the crowds that kill all reverence. And I think that he is glad at times to have us forget our cares and responsibilities that we may be nearer him–as Jesus was when he crept away into the wilderness to pray.”
MARGARET ELIZABETH SANGSTER, “The Gypsy Spirit”
“Look at a tree, a flower, a plant. Let your awareness rest upon it. How still they are, how deeply rooted in Being. Allow nature to teach you stillness.”
ECKHART TOLLE, Stillness Speaks
“Nature, hating art and pains,
Baulks and baffles plotting brains;
Casualty and Surprise
Are the apples of her eyes.”
RALPH WALDO EMERSON, Nature I
“A human being is a part of the whole called by us universe, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feeling as something separated from the rest, a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.”
― Albert Einstein
“The mountains are calling and I must go.”
― John Muir
“…and then, I have nature and art and poetry, and if that is not enough, what is enough?”
– Vincent Van Gogh
A poem written by my dear friend Mekhala:
“I see myself in you.
I have cried your tears,
those shed in pain and despair
and those shed in joy and laughter.
We are bound to one another,
as we are bound to the earth and all that exists.
We are bound by the Great Mystery that surrounds us
And at this very moment moves within us all.
I see God in you
In you, I see myself.”
And lastly a haiku poem…
In the twilight rain
these brilliant-hued hibiscus –
A lovely sunset
– Matsuo Bashō