“To see a World in a Grain of Sand
And a Heaven in a Wild Flower,
Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand
And Eternity in an hour.” William Blake.
We talk of our nature in terms of temperament, or character — ‘what makes us tick’ personally, based on our likes or interests and that which annoys us. This brings us to ‘moods’ and how we react or interact with others and the environment around us. We are in the centre, radiating out onto space, subjected to conditions brought about by choices.
We move, as our two legs allow us to venture out, exploring different regions, seeing how they suit us. Most would agree that ‘a holiday’ makes us feel free, whereas ‘a daily grind’ tales its toll on body and mind, and affects our wellbeing. A change of scene does us good, even if it is just to confirm that we are happy to be home, or conversely, inspires a new direction. It is not a leap to state that we are heavily influenced by our environment and exercise a high degree of choice when deciding what it will be ‘made up of’, for we establish preferences and follow them.
If a city ‘excites’ because we need stimulus, we absorb a wealth of cultural differences, gravitating to what enlivens us. If farm life makes us feel at home, a steady rhythm and adherence to the seasons provides reassurance. Footloose and fancy free, or in a relationship, or with a family — we can all relate to ‘circumstances that change’ based on cycles or ‘life phases’ that cause us to seek ‘time out’ or ‘partnerships’. All elements in the equation, there are myriad examples of ‘how to live’ yet also fundamental differences when it comes to ‘contentment’.
If we are merely living out the results of our choices, why does discomfort visit our doorstep? Why do we need to escape; what drives us to travel, or to renovate, or migrate? For a bird it is simple, they answer to a pattern, there is already an underlying blueprint, or form of communication; nature dictates habits that are intrinsically ‘programmed’, providing a structure or framework that is adhered to automatically — there is no ‘questioning’.
Trees, we can say, are generally fixed in position (unless we’re involved with their upbringing). They simply make the most of the conditions that find themselves in, doing the upmost to ensure their survival — in collaboration with their neighbours and those of their species, for they too are subject to automated forces which enable communication and ‘adjust’ their requirements naturally. ‘Unconsciously’ in our language, for a deeper rhythm penetrates and governs their functioning, both as individual entities and ‘collectively’.
Of course they do not stand alone, even as a forest, for they are also linked to ‘weather conditions’ and cannot be separated. Reliant on the elements they are also generators — producing, recycling and providing the air we rely on. Contributing, regulating, converting, as unseen forces in constant action operate in accordance with ‘natural laws’.
Which brings us to the animal kingdom and their role, imagining the tiniest insects and the largest we know. And all that we cannot see or that remains unknown, in the depths of the sea — all part of the whole — dispersing seeds, aiding decay, through scientific study we are aware of the many roles they play. Each has a place and a purpose in the highly sophisticated system that orders and guides their existence. As do those of the wider ‘plant kingdom’, holding equilibrium.
Which brings us to what we might call ‘innate matter’ — rocks — forms that are so solid they do not seem to contribute much, yet are the building blocks that hold our planet together, for without their substance we are ‘in the ether’. In many cultures they are ancestral beings, holding an imprint, a record of earth’s beginnings, having been shaped and moulded by natural forces; carved and eroded or sculpted — thus, ‘living memory’ of what has always existed but has been subject to change, directing the course of rivers and providing shelter, for we understand ‘man lived in caves’.
Which carries us to water and the evolution of communities based around its precious resources — minerals, sand, all familiar — such a basic need, we all understand its importance. The sea provides food but also lulls us to sleep, a primordial heartbeat as the ebb and flow of the tides merges with our breath, an automated action we hardly pause to consider — yet vital for a healthy organism.
Just as the sun is essential, as we call upon light — fire — as the element that fuels desire. Studies show that we function optimistically, taking on a glow, if we are exposed — we all know about grey and dreary or dark and gloomy — we have windows. And with them, a view, however restricted, beyond the walls that confine us, connecting us to our immediate environment — which is obscured by the ceiling — we have to go ‘outside’ to see things as they really are; to admire the vast stretches of sky, and clouds as they roll past.
Yet curiously, although we look up to the stars and limitless possibilities, we put everything in boxes or categories, blocking our freedom — restricting our vision and narrowing our thinking, for there is a direct correlation.
In nature, we know there is a highly intelligent interconnected system that governs ‘everything’ if we could even begin to define it — from the movement of the planets to the constitution of our own atmosphere — all part of what we term ‘existence’. We cannot help but feel awe when we witness the magnitude of the tiny portion of the visible world that reaches our own spectrum, aware of the majesty and mystery that we are part of. The microcosm and the macrocosm, the unseen forces and planes of existence that lie beyond our comprehension but we can acknowledge, for we know that ‘something is there’ without a construct to describe it, or define ‘it’, in terms of the finer automated nuances of our own existence and all that governs it — because we naturally search for meaning — the faculties of our highly developed systems give us the propensity to a mode of expression we call ‘thinking’.
Free thinking, or limited thinking, we can draw our own conclusion, for we seek to apply logic and reason, providing proof of our assertions — naming our inventions and creating ‘records’ or files that can be referenced, categorising ‘all in existence’, which we can see is rather like insisting ‘we are right’ based on limited information. The more we know, however, the more we can estimate or hypothesise and gather data — giving us enough to surmise what ‘might be occurring around us’ or to take a stab at the bigger questions, like ‘how life was created’.
As with everything that exists for personal enjoyment, we can either be fascinated or ‘choose to ignore’ any search for ‘meaning’, being content with what we’ve been told or ‘passed on’ by experts. Wiping our hands clean, in fact, of the need for any direct evidence or experience — simply borrowing the entire framework and fitting in, however uncomfortably, for the ‘one size fits all’ is convenient and meets most requirements.
If, on the other hand, we are prone to our own investigations, a different picture emerges: we are but a grain of sand. It is easy to see, without a degree, that there are many holes in the equation, that we can never be adamant — that we can have an opinion, or preference, or a vague understanding of the earth we live on and its ‘place’ in the hierarchy, but are far from being able to grasp the ‘full multidimensional version’ for we ‘do not have the faculties’ and it has nothing to do with technology. An empirical, measured approach cannot be quantified when it comes to ‘quantum’ theory and its application. Leaving us with a dilemma — how are we meant to get handle on the world around us if we affect outcomes, as an observer?
The answer is staring us in the face, it has merely taken a while to clear away the confusion: we are the solution. ‘Our nature’ is the root and the quotient, the only mystery to fathom, for within it we will find the entire universe ‘in a nutshell’. Reflected, contained, mirrored, ordained — hermetically sealed, awaiting investigation.
‘Alchemy’ turns lead into gold — the base substance is purified and transformed. Lead is heavy, toxic, hard to carry around, rendering it sluggish, inert, close to the ground — akin to how we may feel when ‘not at all enthused’.
‘Radiating’ we might say, is the opposite end of the scale; bubbling over with excitement when we are swept along with the joy of discovery or a sense of achievement — happy to be sharing our initiatives. Which brings us full circle, back to the finer aspects of our nature: we seek acceptance and we long to share.
So what makes us tick? It is already taken care of — nature has thought of everything, if we would only start listening. Our bodies heal ‘automatically’ (yet if intervention is necessary, those with the motivation and skills are able to assist us). We digest and convert, managing energy resources efficiently. Sleep restores us to wellbeing. We function ‘electrically’ and align magnetically. We are water, and minerals. Our cells need air and light — we are riddled with receptors and sophisticated systems of protection, all designed to convey signals, informing us if we need to ‘change our situation or environment’ accordingly. Adhering to wellbeing — to the optimal functioning capacity, again, automatically, for nature has, remarkably, thought of everything.
Tick-tock, tick-tock… it is time we listened to our own heart, and not a clock (croc).