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The Biggest What If, by Dianne Shaver

Ideas can come from some pretty unexpected places. I was reading a Patagonia catalog which, these days is filled with stories about the outdoor way of life in a very philosophical, insightful way when one hit.In this particular article they talked about those who ski real mountains, not the groomed trails, the really hair-raising sheer drop ones. The people they talked about were farmers in the warmer months and skiers when deep snow arrived.

But, the thing that got me thinking was when they spoke about how we are so insulated and isolated from nature. We do everything we can to keep it at bay and seldom in it when it’s raw. Then it hit me – what if the climate crisis had a really positive effect? If you think that everything happens for the ultimate good, which I do (even the hard stuff, even when I lose sight of it), then there is good that will come from this crisis.

It went further. What if the climate crisis existed to bring us back to interface with real nature again, not quite as when we had just started to walk upright, but still in the earlier days of humanity?What if the gift of this is to help us remember that we are animals. Maybe highly developed for the most part, but still animals. And that as such we are meant to interact with the natural world, not insulate ourselves from it. I think what’s going on in our climate is a combination of many things, but here we are, whatever the cause. And, now we have to deal with it. No government, no organization can insulate us from it. It is here. It reminds us that nature is larger and stronger than we are. We have to learn to live with her. It might mean that we move from the place we have lived for a long time as is happening in some countries. That maybe we go back to being nomads, in a sense. Obviously, as the coastlines change (they already are here in South Carolina and in Rhode Island and other states) and we begin to move to live in areas not affected by the rise of the seas we will leave the place we grew up in or the place our family has lived for generations. We also need to move from places that are becoming arid so traditional crops will not grow. Mother Natures is having her say and we cannot ignore her. She reminds us of our place in the world. We do not dominate or subdue her, we are part of her and need to relearn how to live within her limits.

The irony in all of this, is those who could teach us how to do that and those who have done it for many generations are the very ones whose land we have taken and whom we have placed on reservations and sought to integrate into our ways. The Native Americans and all indigenous peoples. They knew the secrets of living with nature that we so desperately need now. Our solutions usually create more problems because we have not learned how to live with nature. We seek to keep her at bay or subdue her. That is no longer working. And, it will only become more obvious as time goes on.

But, if we are wise enough to learn a new way (actually the old way) of living with nature, we might just be okay. If we continue on the course of thinking humans know better and nature is there at our command, we will learn the hard way.

One of the ways humans are seeking to deal with this crisis is not to deal with it. The idea of moving to other planets where we can repeat our pattern of ignoring nature is coming up. But even there we will have to deal with a hostile ecosystem. In the end we will learn we are just part of a much larger pattern. We are not the central focus and we never were.

Have fun learning from nature.

Best, Dianne


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