The Haw River Paddler

When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the universe.” John Muir

Loving Mother Nature & Living in Her Embrace

You know it is April when you hear ospreys circling above and see dogwood trees and azaleas blooming. For those of us canoeing and kayaking on the Haw River, April is also the month we see mountain laurel blooming along rocky, north facing bluffs; a real treat at this time of year. Although winter months usually provide the best water-levels to challenge the skill of whitewater paddlers, April showers often bring adequate water-levels along with the sights and sounds of courting birds and mammals and the greening of trees and shrubs. I am fairly certain that the first organizers of Earth Day on April 22, 1970, picked the month of April because everything is so alive at this time of year.

I recently participated in a meeting of local businesses where one person made the comment that she doesn’t get out into Nature until the summer. Her comment led me to ask; “Why do so many people feel a disconnect to Nature for either part of or all of the year?” I am sure you have heard of the term “Mother Nature”. To quote Wikipedia, “Mother Nature is a common personification of nature that focuses on the life-giving and nurturing aspect of nature embodying it in the form of the mother.” Think about that. What is the essence of our biological mother, if not someone who gives us life and nurturing? Of course, without the services of food, air, water and shelter provided by our Mother Nature, our biological mother would not be able to provide us with life let alone nurture us. Do we feel disconnected from our biological mother? Of course not. Our biological mother is a source of love that we carry in our hearts forever, and yet, the feeling of love doesn’t necessarily transfer to our Mother Nature. Why is that?

Since the first Earth Day in 1970, the world’s population has doubled and most of that expansion has occurred in urban environments. In cities, you find remnants of Nature in small parks, and to a lesser extend, in the yards of older, wealthier neighborhoods. Our day-to-day movements are usually on concrete or asphalt going from one box we may call school or office to other boxes we call grocery store or home. Heaven forbid that if it is raining we would get wet while traveling among the boxes. Perhaps there is one good thing about the boxes. Since the creation of heating and cooling systems, we have found a way to avoid the air pollution that comes along as a byproduct of all of our scurrying around to get from one box to the next. Oh, I almost forgot about all the indoor air pollution that comes from the plastics and cleansers we somehow can’t live without, but at least we feel more comfortable as we unconsciously poison ourselves.

There is a high cost to individuals from urbanization and the fast pace of development since it creates a false sense of disconnection to the natural world around us as our daily lives take us farther and farther away from our source of food, water and outside air. The fact is that we have never been more connected than we are now and we have never needed a healthy Mother Nature more than we do now. It is the health of our forests, grasslands, rivers and oceans with which we must concern ourselves. For in these natural ecosystems is the resiliency we need to adapt to a changing climate and obtain the essential products and services of Mother Nature as the world’s population continues to grow.

For your sake and the sake of humanity and all of life on this planet, get outside and touch the earth. Learn that Mother Nature needs your love just as much as you need her love. If you do, you will understand your connection to everything as Albert Einstein said so many years ago and I quote:

“A human being is a part of the whole called by us the universe, a part limited by time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings, as something separated from the rest, a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of Nature in its beauty.”