It sometimes disturbs me that some people I know are so far removed from nature. It is not ‘natural’. I was once standing in someone’s house and suddenly realized that it had no plants, no animals and only a view that was largely man-made. It even smelled of cleaners. There was no contact with other life. And I thought, “How do these people keep their sanity in this environment – we would criticize the keeping of a zoo animal in a place so artificial and devoid of natural surroundings.” People need at least to garden, have pets and take holidays in wild places to have a reasonable perspective on existence.
What happens when I spend time among trees or by an ocean is that I think differently. Worrying and planning about things tends to recede. My thoughts become less semantic and more sensual-motor-emotional – I may be several moments at a time without any ‘words’ in my consciousness. A profound sense of relaxation and of being at ease with the world, at home in a sense, is the result of these environments. Note also how good dog visits are for people in senior homes and hospitals.
It is important if we are to live successfully in this world without destroying it or ourselves (or both), that we avoid this divorce from things biological. We have created cultures that more and more separate us from the environment that we evolved to live in. We do not have to destroy any culture but we do need to introduce more of the biological (the other living things) into it. We should stop looking for what separates us from other animals and look for what connects us to them, build bridges rather than fences.
We are animals! That should be one of the fundamentals of our sense of identity. Some scientists and philosophers are working on this, such as these.
Shared Life: An Introduction by Dominique Lestel and Hollis Tayor Social Science Information 52(2) 183-186 doi:10.1177/0539018413477335