Ash tree trunk, branches and foliage

Nature, wisdom & leadership

What “is” the nature of our relationship with the world around us? Sometimes it seems we inserted ourselves into this really decisive position of being the ones who set things in motion. That, based on our present level of insight, we’re intervening and making changes that will inevitably play themselves out, one way or the other, throughout the course of time.

Which is what it is, I’d imagine. That’s the position we seem to hold: unchallenged beings capable of understanding, thinking, and planning action. As if “life” were, in some way, the testing ground for our intelligence; our ability to grasp complex realities and work both creatively and responsibly within them. That, hopefully, we would see the importance of every given thing and take great care not to damage the whole.

If we really understood everything, wouldn’t we know exactly what to do? How to act in regard to our surroundings. What each thing needs and how it’s likely to behave. Whether we’re talking plants, animals, weather, geology or land management, there’s always this question of how well we’re understanding where each thing fits, what its roles are, and all the potential risk any degree of imbalance might bring.

Almost as if – in this role we have – we must surround nature with our greater understanding of it. That, stepping into things, we become responsible for knowing what to do. As if we’ve taken on our shoulders the need to manage this wisely and rise to the challenge of really seeing that invisible bigger picture of what it all means and how much every single thing matters. Like a big cosmic jigsaw puzzle with high stakes.

It seems incredible, when you think about it: the responsibility lying in our hands. This sense of humans standing in relationship to everything around us – this huge give and take of all we gain from our environment and all “it” might gain or lose from our engagement. How we must somehow work with this leadership role that’s fallen to us and live up to all it entails.

Don’t we tend to assign everything its place in our version of events? Giving roles to animals through our agricultural, sporting, culinary or domestic arrangements. Making plants part of this aesthetic conversation of culture and lifestyle. Carving our way into landscapes to make space for our needs or take what we want. The whole of nature, seemingly, ours to do with as we please.

In a way, perhaps we’re giving direction to nature by assigning it all a purpose within our lives. Often, though, it seems things would run more smoothly without us. We seem to benefit most from the relationship; given all we take from the equation. Not least, perhaps, being the wisdom which we could potentially gain from witnessing the consequences of our actions and reflecting on the moral responsibility of it all.

Looking around us and seeing the feedback of causality, might we not learn to appreciate the value of what we didn’t know before?

Notes and References:

Our roles in relation to nature
Appreciating other ways of being
Nature & the fulfilment of potential
Green as an idea
Wisdom the world no longer gives?
Are we wise, living this way?
If environment shapes us…
Charting our own course

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