As you canoe a beautiful, crystal clear stream, is not the mood changed when you come upon an old tire lurking in the depths? How about the beer bottle you trip over on your "wilderness" backpack adventure? Do the plastic bags entangling your bare feet as you stroll the beach not spoil the mood? What becomes of the view of the open prairie or desert with billowing factory smoke in the distance? Is the wonder of the ocean sunrise diminished by offshore derricks interrupting the horizon? Do you like the dead silence of the forest pierced with the distant sound of a chain saw?
The interjection of human activity into these natural settings spoils them. It can change the mood from peace, wonder and personal reflection to disgust, anger and a sense of futility. Tripping over a pop can in nature is like interrupting a beautiful symphony by starting up an un-muffled Harley Davidson.
On the other hand, the chaos of centuries of forest refuse strewn about is a thing of beauty. In contrast, human refuse and junkyards are ugly and repulsive. The reason for this double standard is that we are, at our core, part of nature – not synthetics. Just as birds of a feather flock together, we bind to our own kind as well. Nature is our kind; synthetic and industrial artificiality is not.
Everything in nature is connected. Neurons and blood vessels course through the body interconnecting every single tissue with what is sensed from the external environment. As we breathe, lung tissue connects to the atmosphere. Seeing and hearing is the nexus of light and sound, via chemical reactions in the tissues of our eyes and ears, to the rest of the body. Smelling, tasting and touching similarly reach out for contact.
When we feel the wind in our face, the crunch of snow underfoot, listen to a bubbling stream, breathe the aroma of a forest, marvel at the flight of geese in formation, or gaze in awe into the nighttime infinite heavens, we are connecting.
Joining with nature is like coming home, harmonizing with the world, connecting to that which is familiar, touching our very origins.
Biophilia obviously speaks to protecting nature, but is also key to understanding illness since health is balance and balance requires connection to our source of life – nature. There is a direct proportionality. Break the interconnections with nature and illness will result in lockstep. Restore these balances by returning to nature, and physical, mental and spiritual health is the reward. Nature is indeed both a treasure and a lifeline. We should treat it as such.
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