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Some thoughts about ‘life’

In quite a childlike way, I find it amazing to think that pretty much everything on earth is alive. It’s fairly easy to get swept up in things and start to take that simple fact as a given but, really, it’s incredible to realise all that goes into sustaining life here in all its forms.

Taking time to imagine all the varied interconnections that maintain the ecosystems, relationships and processes on which our own lives depend seems a valuable choice in terms of how we employ our minds. Sometimes I wonder if modern carelessness isn’t perhaps a consequence of not having the opportunity or inclination to contemplate, appreciate and fully understand the wonder of it all.

We have enough going on, but the volume of activity that’s also going on ‘behind the scenes’ to keep life ticking over must be absolutely staggering to comprehend. The hierarchical, interdependent synergy of the animal kingdom building, as it does, upon the sustenance of plant life and mineral richness surrounding it all. The shelter, nourishment and stimulation of the environment and passing seasons.

It’s just so impressive how it all works together seamlessly, almost casually, while we have such difficulties coordinating ourselves. Life just gets on with it ‘out there’, while we throw problem after problem in its direction: pollution, urban encroachment, farming innovation, tourism, waste. The ways humans interact with nature seems so bizarre, so out of step with the calm industrious wisdom it’s demonstrating to us (Notes One).

Humans certainly present quite a challenge. To ourselves, in countless ways, but also to our very environment. The question of what right we have to impact the world as we do seems as old as life itself: woven into the foundations of various belief systems as this fundamental sense of where we stand, what our roles are, and the purpose or responsibility of our existence.

Surely, we only exist because we have somewhere to live? Some environment able to sustain life. This sense in which Earth makes human life possible. Not only physically, but also by way of history and civilisation, the pathways of thought and innovation over the years that’ve led to where we now stand. Everything building on everything else, coexisting more or less harmoniously so life can go on.

Quite often, I find myself asking what exactly we think we’re doing here (Notes Two). And while, at times, I can be hesitantly critical of attempts at change, I’m honestly not sure how much of a future we have without it. There’s this almost fatalistic sense in which we’re ‘living for the now’, for ourselves, rather than maintaining those things that’ll preserve life into the future.

But then, we’re clearly both intelligent and creative. We have the capacity to reflect on what’s around us – the harmonious integration of nature, the fundamental ways it sustains and enriches existence, the fragility of it all – and realise the magnitude of the problems we’re pushing onto those who follow us. Hopefully, somehow, we’ll figure it out.

Notes and References:

Note 1: Intrinsic value of nature
Note 1: Limits having a purpose
Note 1: Tuning out from environment
Note 1: Nature speaks in many ways, do we listen?
Note 1: Aesthetic value of nature
Note 2: Does anything exist in isolation?
Note 2: Can we reinvigorate how we’re living?
Note 2: The power of understanding
Note 2: Smart to play the system?

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