For a moment, imagine the world without humans. If you take them out of the equation, there seems to be a recurring theme of balance. Everything seems to have an equal but offsetting counterpart. Night and day. Wet and dry. Hot and cold. Predator and prey. In all aspects of life and nature, there is a natural flow that seeks to maintain constant balance and eternal continuance. If you’ve ever watched the Lion King, it explains my train of thought well. It’s the circle of life. A lion eats an antelope. But when the lion dies, the body becomes the grass and the antelope eat the grass. Everything is connected. It is ever changing but always changing in the same way to balance things out. At our core, I believe humans seek to do the same.
As a species, we desire that same sense of balance and I think spend our lives searching for it. But why? We are separate from most of nature because we have been blessed with intelligence. Our intelligence seeks to enhance our lives, enrich the environment around us, and make us better than what nature gives us to work with. Our pride, the counterpart of intelligence, tells us we are awesome and that we have conquered nature or are able to bend her to our will. Perhaps as a species this is where our continual sense of discord comes from. As our intelligence grows, so does our pride. And our intelligence is enabling us to more closely control our own destiny and thus live separate from nature’s ever present drive for balance.
If you look back on the existence of man, while there are so many wonderful inventions, our history is splattered with equally horrible atrocities. Horrible things that we do to ourselves, to each other, to other living creatures, and to the world itself. I wonder if there is any correlation between our brutal existence and our desire to control nature? Perhaps the desire to manipulate something that is already in balance in turn throws things out of equilibrium.
Every day I struggle to look outside of my own personal perspective, my own view of the world around me. I try to think of things in a broader sense: How are my actions affecting my surroundings? I find it difficult because I constantly am drawn back to how the world is affecting me. I wonder if true enlightenment comes when the ‘I’ falls away and I just see what is before me, the concern for myself gone instead replaced by an acceptance that where I am is where I am meant to be at that point and the desire for control does not exist. No longer seeing the shades of grey created by forces seeking to throw things out of balance. True black and white. Like nature.
Imagine standing on a sidewalk, poised to plant your left foot in the grass the sidewalk borders. As you take that step, what happens? How would you explain stepping into the grass?
My initial description was that of my leg slowing lifting. I can feel the rub of the fabric on my skin as my leg raises. I can feel a gentle breeze on my skin as my leg cuts through the air. As I lower my foot into the grass, I can feel the soft points of the grass, as they presses into my feet, the cool touch of the dirt as I transfer my weight to my foot. I, I, I. My initial thought was how moving my foot affected me.
The other side would be noting how my actions affect everything except myself. As I raise my leg to step into the grass, the movement causes the air to move sending the softest of breezes that sends a wish on its way courtesy of a dandelion. The flexing of my muscles and upwards motion causes friction against my pants, breaking them in just a tiny bit more. My foot stepping down squishes and breaks blades of grass, which begin to break down to feed the other plants around it.
My thought is that perhaps true enlightenment comes from melding both sides, being aware of the fact that my actions have an effect on myself and also everything around me but that I have little choice what form that effect will take. My actions will affect me, but how my choices affect others is not in my control. I chose to step into the grass. I took that step. What happens after I step in the grass is not my choice. Whether the grass springs back up, that dandelion seed plants itself, or the grass begins to wilt where I stepped – I can’t make that decision. I have already taken that step and what will happen next has already been set in motion.
Intelligence is a great power, but with power comes greater responsibility. Though it is easy to feel apart from nature and its eternal desire for balance, nothing sends home how truly miniscule we are when a natural disaster such as a tornado, earthquake, tidal wave, or meteor comes crashing down and evens the score. Nature seeks balance, always. So use our intelligence as it was intended, but be cognizant that there is a price that will be paid. I am not advocating doing away with the fruits of intelligence and foregoing all material possessions or to stop finding ways to make life better. That would be silly. Our gift is our brain and it should be used every single day. But perhaps there is a need to use it and yet maintain an awareness of the natural give and take of the universe. What is the cost of healing that disease? Could it be overpopulation or a worse medicine resistant disease? Does curing that disease outweigh the equal counterpart that will eventually occur?
I believe everything is connected and because of that, my choices and actions have an effect on my surroundings. I believe it is important to be aware of the possible consequences of my choices. But I am also beginning to believe that where my choices will lead me is such a complex set of give and take, that I have no way of understanding or controlling it. I accept that I am moving along my path the best way I know how and I will make my choices, always opting for having the littlest effect on those around me. I feel I might be on to something. For 29 years I have spent my life feeling out of control, helpless to get what I wanted.
Isn’t it ironic that believing I am not in control has given me a sense of peace? I feel grounded. Connected. I am content.