I think about this moment.

We have always been part of nature, one being in an ecosystem of other beings who are breathing, living through cold stunning events, each trying for a good chance of survival.

My ancestor’s homes used to be more closely tied to the earth, made of sod, mud, newly-felled round logs, grasses, reeds and rushes, hides. They were impermanent, moveable, seasonal, modal based on the need at hand, the angle of the sun, the temperature of the earth’s crust, and the direction of the breeze.

What was the turning point, when we enveloped ourselves in sheetrock and plaster and paint? Creating a barrier, an us and them, an inside and an outside, rather than just a shelter or a place for warmth and rest? For storytelling and rejuvenation? For feasting and mourning?

I think about this moment – coming indoors forever – that was perhaps considered a revolution, something positive and transformative, a big idea that was to improve the lives of millions.

I think about this moment.

Disconnected from the cycles of nature. What is happening in the winter underground, decomposition and decay, what the ice and cold contract and constrain, what springs forth through the mud and mire, shoots roots deep to stabilize earth, washes ashore in a king tide. To then produce, seed, spawn, fruit, flower, germinate. And in the sequence of things, flame out and wither, scattering to the four corners, returning to the place as sustenance for a future generation.

As I walk outdoors, outside of my home and these four walls, evading an invisible virus that has brought us to our knees, the boundary between us and a so-called nature a blurred reminder, I realize that I’m surrounded by death. Being in nature is experiencing death, always. And birth, always. The giant mother trees in the forest, felled by wind and age, becoming hosts for a multitude of other trees who are the early-to-rise ones, the first generation, competing with each other for light and the mother tree’s nutrients, racing to reach the canopy like fastidious first-borns. The grey whale who swam with her children’s children children, now sunk to the bottom of the ocean, a whale fall, creating an ecosystem all of her self, with undiscovered worms burrowing through her blubber and sea-fans affixing themselves to any open surface, waving at fish, circling above, who produce their own light. Nutrients being transformed and suspended on a current through ocean basins and global hemispheres.

Even in death, she gives. We receive. But if we’re not careful, we just take.

Is this why we’re so disconnected from the earth? Is our culture so death defying that even being in nature is a reminder that while the universe is infinite, our time is finite?

That being interconnected comes with responsibilities, to tend, to care, to love, to be, to bear witness to all of it?

whale fall II on Behance

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