Today I looked around my small world at the things I work with, the things I wear and travel with and how they are either extremely inconvenient or so comfortable they go unnoticed, yet are an integral part of a complete whole that composes my wardrobe as a working combination.
The almost unnoticed, yet never left behind and packed-without-thinking jeans and T-shirts, the allotted days’ underwear haphazardly thrown into a corner, the warm poncho that could double as a blanket, the shoes that work for both street and hiking—the collective of a suitcase that has travelled the world with all I need, allowing me the freedom to move to my own internal rhythm which could mean anywhere, anytime.
Enter the hat. Almost perfectly it sits on the head, a crafted piece of eloquent lines, worn as a cover to prevent exposure to the reality of the harsh UV light that threatens to congeal the grey matter. It looks stylish and creates elegance from the lowliest of thrown-together garments, but it cannot settle anywhere else with ease—only on the head. It won’t fold, it cannot be rolled; it must always be kept in a special place to ensure its structure will not be destroyed. It’s rigid and moves only within its own contours, sculpted on a mould that neither complies to any other mould, nor to many a wearer.
Why did I buy it? Now that I think of it, I didn’t need it. I have a perfectly worthwhile hat that can even be slept in without any injury to it, my head, or anything I should lean against. So why then? At that particular moment it looked good, and I wanted it without giving any thought to the consequences of owning it. And now, because I’ve paid for it, I feel obligated to hang onto the dumb thing until it falls apart or until I can no longer stand the inconvenience and destroy it myself.
It makes my packing awkward, it has to always be taken into consideration wherever I go, it will always look for the nearest crack to escape into and it will not adapt to any unusual situation—like someone accidentally sitting on it. By buying it, I have confined my movements to where it can settle easily without disturbance and that means my freedom to sit where I like has been usurped by a structure of straw. Willingly I bought into its allure and now I am its servant until death parts us.
This is an extremely small example of how we move things to us that force us to conform in ways that confine our natural rhythm, holding us captive to a structure that eventually ensures destruction.
Yet every day we move to a structure that we allow to conform us—a confined structure, an ungainly structure; a structure we neither fit into, nor can it be conformed to fit to us. It withholds our freedom to move, demands constant moving to its tendencies, and requires constant work to ensure it holds its shape.
We hold ourselves captive to systems of rules and regulations that were made on a mould that fits only the limited few who were used as the design for the mould. We concoct all sorts of reasons for this apparently normal behaviour—the work is here, the confinement is worth the money in the end, we are protected, our welfare is ensured, or our healthcare, or our pension. With wide-eyed horror we confront the reality that pensions have been pilfered, or healthcare has been reduced to a state that dying at home is less fraught with loopholes than the paperwork required to collect the care of a health system already on its knees, work has become scarce and money has lost its value. And as for protection we are now coagulated into a mass mould that invites attack, we have become sitting targets.
Any structure that limits the natural in any way, undoes a work of art more surely than a knife the Mona Lisa. Humankind has within it the nature to uphold norms and ethics to ensure its own protection, and where these fail, the community moves to correct and protect. Humankind has work engineered into his DNA to ensure survival of both itself and the planet; it also has engineered in itself the ability to create works of great beauty and works of astounding technology that will benefit the community of humankind as a whole.
To willingly choose to hold a work of such perfection captive in an unbending society is to hold the world captive, and to hold the world captive holds Nature captive and holding Nature captive guarantees the destruction of the captor.
By moving ourselves into concrete structures and even more concrete norms of behaviour, we have moved into a rhythm that is anything but natural; the outcome is that Nature itself suffers, and as patient a patient as Nature is, the day will come that it grows tired of the non-stop maltreatment and retaliates.
The world now sprouts more concentrated cubes of increasingly dense populations, necessitating a shift in agriculture to feed the mouths of a large unnatural nest. Weather patterns are continuously being manipulated to force artificial convergence where those who do so require it, causing a meteoric downward-spiral in the Earth’s ability to control its climate. Agriculture has suffered severely under these conditions and many countries have been brought to their knees. Close on the heels of extreme drought follows intense rain, forcing inhabitants to leave the land and move to areas less contingent on agriculture.
Vast sections of once habitable land now lie arid and cities are bursting at the seams. A world of concrete is taking the place of a world of pastures; testing nuclear weapons is damaging the ozone layer, and underwater testing adds to the warming of the seas. The well-being of the planet has been sacrificed on the altar of technology and enterprise, and it is irrevocably moving toward climatic disaster. Weather is no longer the result of predetermined normalization of the Earth’s temperature movements. It is the result of pre-arranged interference. Earth matters have taken back seats and for this reason, when changes occur, they cannot be managed.
Interfering with naturally controlled rhythms, artificially forcing them to occur outside their natural time and place interferes with forces beyond the understanding of human intelligence. Droughts are a natural phenomenon, as are floods; they present times of stabilization of the Earth’s ecology, and weathering these conditions strengthens both the Earth and its inhabitants. Adapting to changing conditions controls evolution and survival of the fittest is ensured. Weakened species are soon eradicated, and stronger forms are toughened both to grow and to thrive. When a weather change is under way, those strong enough to survive it will, and creating any unnatural weather occurrence throws evolution into farcical transition, and a world in farcical transition is a world in evolutionary chaos. To either control or adjust a natural phenomenon disturbs the natural rhythm of all things, casting the world into disarray and courts disaster.
The hat we thoughtlessly bought because it looked good, allowed limited protection and added style to the haphazard garment Nature has been comfortably wearing for billions of years will eventually cause enough discomfort to be discarded; and it would be better for all life forms on this planet if we discard it before we are discarded.
“Ah, what a warning for a thoughtless man,
Could field or grove, could any spot of Earth,
Show to his eye an image of the pangs
Which it hath witnessed,—render back an echo
Of the sad steps by which it hath been trod!”
– William Wordsworth – The Excursion.Book vi.