If you are lucky, you may find yourself walking down a country lane in late autumn on a slightly broody morning, when the wind picks up high in the trees and the clouds break up just enough to let the sun catch the leaves swirling down from the tall tall maples and poppels and beeches lining the lane.
And when you do, you and your hound and your love may stand still in awe and crane your necks and then turn giddy with the richness of it all and try to catch leaves whichever way you know how and tell each other how great this is and to keep this moment forever in whichever way you can.
Okay, not the hound. The hound is busy sniffing at the base of the trees to find out where the errant squirrel may best be intercepted. His world is smell.
As a species we appear to be mainly experiential just like a dog chasing a squirrel or a blowing leaf: we respond to that which we can see, smell, feel, hear, to that what is now rather than in the future. That which we know happens but we don’t directly feel on our bodies or in our wallets is off stage.
For one thing, we largely ignore the incredible process of vast amounts of biological material growing, living, and dying all around us and even inside us, each item an intricate design executed just so. Unless of course it’s pretty and comes swirling into our face. Sure, we see mosquitoes and a few spiders and are moved to banish them from our environment because they are incompatible with our sense of comfort (and many are, who wants lice or fleas? When black flies really go at it they can kill a moose — ).
But mostly we harness a minuscule amount of it for food and shelter, try to keep a lot of it at bay (removing the wasp nest, raking the falling leaves, clipping the hedge), and ignore the rest although we know it’s there and we count on it for the air we breathe. Once in a while, we go for a visit to some special parts of it, the Everglades for instance, and get a thrill from the vague and specific threats out there.
Instead of paying attention to this, we prefer to believe in some unseen force that looks from on high at our doing. In many cases, we have that unseen force give permission to our most base instincts in fattening our wallets or devaluing others so we can control them, because we can’t quite keep their individualities and activities at bay by ignoring them or fencing them out, like we do with the pulsing biomass of the planet.
I think we can’t stand it that the other biomasses on the planet completely ignore us. It hurts our sense of self importance. Actually seeing them would force us to reorder our priorities. If the trees were to pay tribute or call us master, would we pay attention to the need to keep them in good shape?