“Nature and the countless ways we have discovered to reproduce it, visually, aurally and verbally, are antipathetic; above all I believe it is so verbally. Words cannot reproduce nature; they exist in totally different worlds.” John Fowles
Days of flooding marked the Summer Solstice in Calgary, Peace River, Canmore and Southern Alberta forever. Footage of houses being swept away, train tunnels overflowing and entire sections of our Trans Canada Highway washed out has been astounding to take in… but was it really all from just a few storm cells and unprecedented rain?
Today while biking through my favourite river valley trails, I stopped to hang out on a walking bridge. There I found myself in awe of our North Saskatchewan River, swollen four feet up the banks, muddy and strewn with great masses of fallen trees and debris… all flowing fast, downstream from the southern floods. Various trees of shapes and size floated by and on one sat a duck. I watched the duck taking in a free ride until just below the bridge where it suddenly flew off skimming the water and quacking a few times as if to say, catch ya later. Within moments the fourty foot log it had been sitting on smashed the side of the bridge, shaking me and everyone on it literally to the foundation. I turned towards a stranger and uttered, good timing. To which the man replied, I wondered why it flew off so fast.
What if Gaia, our planet seen as a living, self-sustaining eco-system, was more than a mere mythological theory? Muse for a moment that our Native Indians, traditional peoples for Millennia, ancient Greeks as well as many modern scientists to name a few …Stephen Harding, James Lovelock, Lynne Margulis, David Abrams, all agreeing on the same thing, were indeed correct. Our great Mother Earth isn’t just some old school phrase, but an actual self regulating, self sustaining, life giving entity which has done just this for billions of years. If this were true; what might it mean to you?
On the science side, some facts pointing in this direction are very impressive to me. For example, Astro- physicists have established that beyond a reasonable doubt our sun today is about 25% brighter than it was 3500 million years ago, and yet, tracking the mean global temperature throughout this time, our planet, has never been too hot or too cold for life. Imagine that for a moment with reference to the rest of the solar system. Consider our most important life elements… carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen, phosphorus, and sulphur (CHNOPS), now consider how they interact with one another to promote life. Is it just a curious coincidence that Hydrogen, for example, so light that our earths gravitational pull isn’t enough to contain it, just stays here? If hydrogen actually floated away we would rapidly lose all water on the planet, dry out and die (this very thing may have happened to Venus). But this doesn’t happen because Oxygen rapidly binds to Hydrogen capturing it before it can escape. So the very air we all rely on in each and every moment is an actual chemical binding process that could just as easily shift into a doomsday scenario with a little less oxygen.
How does it make you feel to consider that our earth houses the only life we know of in the entire Universe? Is that not pause for deep consideration, reflection…. even reverence for the nature of our Mother Earth? Now take life as we know it and add to it the vast diversity, from the elements that allow us to breathe, to the micro-organisms that make up most of our digestive system not to mention life on this planet, to plants sustaining our oxygen levels, insects pollinating our plants, animals harmonizing in balance and our human species. If Mother Earth is not beautiful, not amazing, fascinating, curious or remarkable then how about just acknowledging that she is life giving? Without her what would there be?
Back at the foot bridge I was contemplating Gaia, thinking about the flooding in Southern Alberta and my urge to write this blog. The clouds were heavy with humidity layered with billowy darkness and white ruffled edges. As I gazed into their beauty a perfect heart emerged to blue sky. It lasted just long enough for me to know what I wanted to write about.
Gaia, global warming, 100 year floods, 200 year floods, tsunami’s, hurricanes, global earthquakes, ice caps melting, our Summer Solstice Southern Alberta flooding, tornados in Edmonton…. surely its evident to most people by now that environmental change has arrived. If you are still a doubter check in with Lloyds of London, they’re not on the fence.
Despite the destruction, the loss and the devastations that have arrived with Mother Earths expressed moods, I have found the saddest realization to be the startling lack of reverence most humans have for nature. Oh sure people like to boat out at the lake or enjoy a nice sunset but they lack a level of appreciation that goes beyond their own narcissistic needs. Kind of like a teenager who pops in just long enough to appreciate moms home cooked meal before zooming off with her car.
During the flooding in Southern Alberta the comments I heard all around me were dripping with human hubris and ridiculous levels of denial. Well, we have to plan better…. Building on a flood plain isn’t the smartest move or while watching their homes being washed away….we’re just really optimistic, we’ll recover and move on. We’ll get through this….. Seriously people? The more I heard the more I realized that most people are thicker than packed clay when it comes to any genuine, heart felt connection to Mother Nature. These people weren’t feeling anything in a reciprocal way … like a real relationship requires. The more I heard the more I imagined humans as parasitic ants crawling all over planet earth, George Carlin came to mind, so apt in his stand up routine when he describes Mother Earth as trying to shake us off like a bad case of fleas.
Where does reverence for nature come from? Why do some people have it and others don’t? I really can’t say for sure, but I do know that ignorance and a lack of connection to ones own heart plays a big part in it. I know this because people who speak from the heart don’t smile into a camera and say, we’re just really optimistic, as their house floats away downstream. People who speak from the heart know the heart, they have learned to listen to their own subtle whispers their inner nature and deeper wisdom. They understand the lies and destruction of a floating head, disconnected from the heart, of the white mans empty promises; they know the difference between a fear based power of force, we will rebuild, and the hearts true power of change through love, we will revere.
What I know for sure is that no one or no thing likes to be taken for granted. People who take people for granted are considered users, vacant, missing some link to their own integrity and self worth. But isn’t this what we do to our great Mother Earth? What do we call ourselves, do we have a term, other than parasitic ants, to describe ourselves in relation to the very planet that keeps us alive? Think about how you use Mother Earth and how you thank Mother Earth .. and tell me it isn’t so.