nature blindness*

Imagine a person who has been imprisoned in their house all their life.

Imagine a person who spends 80% of their time within their apartment. Their experience limited to the four walls of each room, the view down the corridor, the textures of their wallpaper, the smell of their cupboards and the sounds of their pipes.

Imagine their most common outdoor view was of the wall of the building opposite, a squint at the patch of sky racing overhead and a sideways glance down onto the thrumming street below.

Imagine a person who’s life reaches beyond this but who only leaves the house to drive to another building to work, to spend the 50% of their life. Maybe going to the school, to the supermarket, to the parking lot, to the gas station, to the local bar…and then home.

Imagine if their closest encounter with nature was an open window, a walk across their front lawn to their car, a blurred view from a passenger window.

Imagine a person who walks to work along the same pavement, the same route every single day. The same sight along the same street. Over the same hedge into the park. Across to the same hazy hills on the same lazy horizon.

Their view of the natural world will be, to a degree, very narrow.

Imagine if this view of the world was ingrained over decades of repetition. Deepening the same old sensory rut. Etching the same neural pathways in the brain.

Would you say that with such limited sight they would have largely lost the ability to sense the world at large in any dynamic way?

How can this person sense what is wrong with their own little world because they ceased to understand how it relates to, and is interconnected with, the larger natural system around them?

Their world is seen only in isolation. Dump the pastic bottle in the bin: the rubbish gets removed from their world: out of sight: out of mind. Who cares if it impacts elsewhere. It is outside my world. My little world. My little vision. My little prison.

Many of us in the developed world chose to imprison ourselves in such a way with no good reason. To restrict our view. To pass up the priceless gift of nature for something more plastic. More moulded. More welded.

This blindness explains why ‘we’ are capable of destroying  our Earth  – simply because we are blind to its value. We never walk amongst it. We have no idea of our part in it. Our responsibility for it.

By getting out into nature, changing our view and creating new neural pathways based on sensing nature we will build a new set of connections with nature and perceive, naturally, more of it around us. By becoming more sensitive in this way and we will value it more highly. We will be able to experience what nature is experiencing. We will be a part of its fecund fabric.

So…get off the well trod paths, the normal pathways of your lives and connect it with the greater world around you. You will then see the effect of society’s actions (and inactions) on nature. You will see how you relate to it. You will value it.

And then you will be more aware of the imprint you leave upon it.

*thanks to Jon Young for being the inspiration behind this blog entry.


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