September 28, 2015

The Environment Is In You

I came across these amazing mushrooms on a recent walk in the woods behind my home.

When I go for hikes in the woods I melt right into my surroundings. I meld with everything around me. I cease to exist in my individual, solitary state and merge with everything else. I am in my place and at peace. I am at home.

Modern life separates us from this place of peace. So-called civilized people are "above nature", have "transcended the natural world". We have stopped being participants in a cooperative venture and have taken a competitive ownership over all lower life forms.

Our natural humility has been replaced with an ugly hubristic pride. We are the most important organism on the planet, and everything else is here to serve us. There is us, and there is the environment. We do not want to be associated with that messy, chaotic system.

Wendell Berry challenges us to find "where the line can be drawn between an organism and its environment." "The environment, he says, "is in you."

"It's passing through you. You're breathing it in and out. You and every other creature."

Whatever we do to the environment we do to ourselves, because we are an inextricable part of the whole. No more or less important than anything else.

We are the environment and the environment is us. Just go for a quiet walk in nature and you can get a glimpse of the connection between you and everything else. You are home.


  1. I had a close call this Summer when up in the mountains. We has slept out beneath mighty peaks and wew on our way home in pouring rain and fog. Due to health problems I suddenly collapsed and couldn't get up. Needless to say, I survived, though I gave everyone a nasty scare. It did however, remind me of how small we become in the face of Mother Nature. She is to be respected and feared yet honoured and loved. Pam in Norway

    1. Pam,

      I am so sorry about your scary incident out in the wild. Some of Linda's last walking hikes were pretty frightening since we never knew when her legs might give out. As a result those final hikes were usually with other people so we had help if we got into trouble.

      Mother Nature definitely demands respect. I was thinking about that while hiking in an area new to me last night. It was just before sunset and I was thinking how easy it would be to get lost on the numerous trails I was exploring.

      We have to go into the wild with care and caution. When we do the payoffs are huge... like staying alive! I am glad your hike had a positive resolution, and hope that your health is improving.

  2. Great photo, Gregg. I don't think you can find anything that beautiful at the shops...



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