If we simply take the time to observe and listen to the natural world, we can utilize its wisdom to enrich our own individual lives and the lives of others.
Albert Einstien was fully aware of this and made the keen observation that if you “Look deeply into Nature, you will understand everything better.”
Looking deeply into nature to understand everything better does not simply mean taking a hike to focus intensely on the fine details of an ecosystem. It does not mean looking out over a shortgrass prairie to analyze its intricacies. Taking time to focus on these details of the Natural world can teach us elements of its wisdom, but to truly look deeply into nature means to always be observing nature everyday of our lives.
When we observe and appreciate nature in our daily lives we give our consciousness the ability to glean the wisdom of the natural world that we are both very much a part of, descendent from, and an influence upon.
One way of observing nature to learn from its wisdom is to look at the world from the viewpoint of other living things, walking in their shoes so to speak.
My favorite foodie and philosopher, Michael Pollan, puts it this way:
“Looking at the world from other species’ points of view is a cure for the disease of human self-importance. You suddenly realize that consciousness – which we value and we consider the crowning achievement of nature, human consciousness – is really just another set of tools for getting along in the world.”
Acknowledging that our human consciousness is indeed impressive, does not mean that it is somehow superior to, or separate from the natural world. As Michael Pollan eludes to, our impressive human consciousness is simply one of the billions of tool sets that life on Earth utilizes to sustain itself.
When we honor the souls of everything in Nature we gain the perspectives necessary to learn from everything that Mother Nature has to teach us.
Observing and honoring nature everyday of our lives gives our human consciousness the ability to utilize the wisdom of a larger consciousness. When we have this increased awareness and bigger perspective it becomes easy to see the principles that result from nature’s wisdom.
There are many principles that result from this wisdom and learning from them in human form is a life’s work where not all answers can be explained.
If you asked me what key adjectives I would use to describe the natural world, I would be inclined to first give you subjective feelings and opinions like magical, magnificent and awe inspiring. After professing my feelings of gratitude for nature in these ways I would then be able to list the objective, factual adjectives that describe the natural world. The more objective adjectives I would give to describe the natural world are resilient, regenerative, and adaptive
These three words are powerful descriptors and it is not a coincidence that each of these three words are also synonyms for sustainable. Above all, the natural world is sustainable.
Sustainability and being sustainable are buzz words that can often be misunderstood or misused. If we want to acknowledge what it truly means to be sustainable, we must acknowledge what it means to be resilient, regenerative, and adaptive.
First, for a business, organization or community to be sustainable it must be resilient. I often like to think of resiliency as the intersection of where determination and resourcefulness meet.
As it pertains to The Land, our resiliency must be equal parts stubborn determination and equal parts clever resourcefulness. In this regard, it is important to remember that often there are not lack of resources, but rather a lack of creative solutions.
Second, for a business, organization or community to be sustainable it must be regenerative. Storms happen in nature with regularity, as they do in own personal lives. Wind storms break branches, fires take down old growth forests, and floods reshape rivers. These events are traumatic, yet in their wake they leave behind conditions that allow for long term sustainability of the ecosystem. Broken branches shade the soil and ultimately break down to become nutrients for the tree to grow. Forest fires clear old growth that allows sunlight to reach the forest floor. Floods reshape rivers creating new types of habitat for plants and animals.
Last, for a business, organization or community to be sustainable it must be adaptable. In the natural world we observe that there is an overall flexibility that allows plants and animals to survive. Nature teaches us the importance of seeing limitations as opportunities, and adapting accordingly. As it pertains to The Land, we are in a period of limitation where our flexibility and willingness to adapt are key to our survival and sustainability.
These three qualities of the natural world- resilient, regenerative, and adaptable. These three qualities hold within them a wisdom of what is required to sustain. I highlight this wisdom of the natural world in hopes that each of us can use it as a foundation upon which to continually observe nature and ultimately learn from these observations to enrich our individual lives and the lives of others.