What is nature? I’ve been asking people, and they’ve been looking at me strangely, and have said things like, well, you know, green stuff. Sometimes people answer like this, too: natural things. Or even: wild things. I think I’ve got it now. This is considered nature:
Gull in a Midwinter Thaw on Okanagan Lake
Shucks, though. What if it isn’t nature? What if it’s actually a representation of a matrix of ethical, social and physical issues? What if it is, in other words, human? Sure, sure, sure, it’s a gull, but that’s not what I mean. I mean, what if it were something actually pretty much like this:
At first glance, it’s a few cat tail rushes buried under ice and covered with a skiff of snow. Or maybe that’s at fifth glance, or something. I don’t really know.
I find it an intriguing idea. This is, after all, something that only a human could make, a kind of intersection between physical forces of energy and human capacities for perception and their cognitive processing.
A Bear Would Not Make This Image
To put it in a language that bears (and dogs) can understand: it smells of human.
That’s because it’s not “nature”. It’s “human nature.” I don’t mean “human nature” in the sense of “what humans do”, but in the sense of “the earth and humans are mirrors of each other; nature is human.”
Just Another Neighbourhood Human Hanging Out in the Rushes
There is also, of course, “bear nature”, but that’s not exactly the same thing. Nor are “grouse nature” or “golden retriever nature” or “green sweat bee nature”. There is, mind you, a kind of nature in which these various natures come together. We cannot see this nature.
This is Still Human Nature, Everywhere You Look
It’s there, though, in the way in which two genders come together to produce a new generation and humans and their physical extensions come together to produce new life, a kind of spiritual and ethical life like this…
Image of Ditch Ice Looking Like a Fish’s Head
aka a physical manifestation of ethics
I’ve been talking lately of how a human (such as myself) who came to consciousness through relationships with the physical earth comes to see no boundary between the earth and himself and herself. For such people, the earth is both body and memory. A waterfall across the valley is, in this manner of presence, for example, a way of thinking. It is part of the thought process of such people. To give another example, here is a kind of self portrait …
A Human Self Image
It is called Human Nature. No, no, no, not a middle-aged grey-haired, grey-bearded human with twinkling green eyes and a sense of goatish fun, but something very serious indeed: a way of restoring or maintaining the integrity of living, organic systems through a process of continual self-observation, reflection, and adjustment. You can call that beauty and you can call that love. I do.
Humans Everywhere You Look!
Or, rather, not humans. When a human and its natural environment are one, there is no environment and there is no human. There is only human nature.
This post is for Betsy who suggested the term “Human Nature” for what I’ve been trying to describe.
And what is “human”? Ah, that’s coming soon.