I found myself stunned the other day by what a friend mentioned. It was a conversational mention. Not meant to be profound or to be instructive or to be insightful. But it ended up being every one of these traits. Powerful in its own way. Revealing with its perspective. Possibly even prophetic considering how our world is turning.
Here’s the quote: ‘I need to get into nature to escape reality.’
My friend said it with such casualness. Cloaking it between two ho-hum statements that had no significance. It didn’t seem fair. It was like placing a truffle between two pieces of moldy, week-old bread. This assertion deserved more attention. It demanded more dignity.
So now I’m giving it the spotlight because the truth was, this statement downright frightened me. With this assumption, that nature is not reality, then what, my mind asked, is reality?
Is reality the imaginary show we watch nightly for chuckles, thrills and distraction? In other words, the made up shows with made up hair, made up actors and made up scripts representing made up life?
Is reality the phone that can do everything within one click, telling me that I need not have patience anymore? Ergo, if the task at hand can’t be accomplished with one click, good grief, that’s just not efficient and it’s wasting my time! Away with you inefficient two-step apps.
Is reality the internet that has all manner of opinion, thought and idea available to me all in one, writhing mosh pit of information? After all, the people who write stuff on the internet are always the experts, always telling the truth and always fact checking themselves because you can’t publish incorrect opinions, thoughts and ideas on the internet. There are internet cops for that sort of thing. And they are probably employed by Google. At least that’s what I’m told.
Is reality the social networking that must be done every other second of the day because I might miss out on what Jimmy is saying about Susie’s aunt’s cousin? I must know what is happening with this person who lives five states away, who is not my family and who has never met me and never will. It is crucial or my life is over!
For the next second anyway.
If I accept this as reality, then I want to escape it too. I’ll be the first person to place myself on a life raft, lower myself down the side of the boat and paddle to my tropical island. Who’s with me?
I hear you calling out – though I must urge you, to get onto my tropical island, you will have to abandon that phone once in a while.
Now I hear less people calling out.
Coming back to my friend’s statement. If I could edit my friend’s words – play with the choices – I would have the words read something like this: ‘I need to get into nature to find reality.’
Is not nature the ultimate reality show? This morning while watching the whimsical songbirds eating gratefully from the bird feeders I had just replenished, a Sharp-shinned hawk came out of a tree and grabbed one little bird from its spot on the feeder. Talk about reality – I want a little therapy after seeing that event! But it was real. No turning back, no story writing, no coaching the hawk how to turn ‘just so’ in order that I might see the talons glistening against the rising sunshine. No. The hawk needed to eat, so it did. Expertly and graphically. That is some reality.
Is not nature the original device that can produce just about anything we need? If we just give it time, that is. A tomato does not burst forth two seconds after placing the seed in the ground. You can’t place the seed in a small bowl of soil, add 1/4 cup of water, stir, place in the microwave, walk away after pushing the ‘one-minute’ cook time button, and –ding- you have a fully grown tomato plant. No. The plant has to grow roots, stems and leaves. The plant has to convert sunlight to sugars. The plant has to absorb water from the soil. The plant has to launch frilly, yellow flowers that have an enticing scent for pollinators. The plant has to grow strong enough to support the weight of a fully ripened tomato. Then the plant can grow the delicious, juicy tomato. That is some patient, worthwhile reality.
Is not nature the original internet, full of every answer we could ever ask? Nature teaches us what color palettes are in season. Nature teaches us how to use patterns and textures together. Nature teaches us how to compose a symphony. It never is contradictory, yet always changing, updating, adapting. If you’ve ever been looking for a true, authentic answer, chances are nature has it, but you have to sit and listen before nature will reveal it. That is insightful reality.
Is not nature the ultimate social networker? No human sound has to be heard for there to be a conversation of monumental quality in a forest. And the speed at which it can be communicated is impressive. The leaves are pushed in the wind overhead. A storm is coming on the horizon towards the sleepy forest. The ominous rustle is felt like a vibration through the forest. The jays call to one another from the edges of the clearing. The squirrel looks for the nearest shelter, but not before grabbing that tasty acorn lying right beside the closest twig. She needs to have a snack while she watches the storm. The chipmunk, hearing the squirrel’s claws climbing against the tree bark sees its opportunity to grab a few more acorns while the competition is away. She scampers, grabs her meal and dashes off to her log just as the squirrel hops aggressively from the tree to grab another tidbit. She scampers back up the tree into her nest. The thunder pierces through the rustling leaves as every living thing in the forest, who has already heeded the alarm, watches the leaves dance with the drops of rain. There is a play, a dance, a conversation happening between plants and animals, different species. All of nature communicating succinctly. That is spoken reality.
So I wish at the time I had this as my answer. The answer to the question my friend never asked. I would have said, my dear friend, perhaps realities are decided – that is, my reality and your reality. My reality will always be nature and technology will merely be the tool, the assistant to help me get through the other things in life so that I might enjoy that true reality – nature. Yes, yes, that is what I should have said to that little loaded truffle of a statement trapped between those two other moldy sentences.
Technology is my assistant and nature will always be my reality.