We were made to move. Our bodies were designed like so many other functioning living things we see around us in the natural world. We see the importance of active living in studies that reflect on healthy living and our frequency to move. We also were made to interact and live in a sustainable way with our environment. When we recognize such principals our lives take on more purpose for we understand somewhat how we fit into the grand scheme of things.
So many things in the biosphere are set to rudimentary patterns and cycles. Take for instance the response of plants and animals to the changes of the seasons. Just about everything is powered by energy from the sun.
There are cycles in our climate of wet, dry, cold, and warm periods. Plants and their environment interact to grow keyed to these various factors. So it seems futile to constantly cut down vegetation in a wetland because it is all set to grow back profusely, unless the climate and water patterns change. Things like this do happen on occasion but who has the far-reaching vision or knowledge to read their coming? Most of these far-reaching changes come about slowly, like over hundreds or perhaps thousands of years. Yet there are some changes in the rhythm of life that can come about quickly, like the vast impact of an erupting volcano, a tornado, a flood, or a hurricane. The challenge with us is we can’t always read the signs accurately to know the exact timing of lots of these things. We still sometimes can’t get the prediction of weather correct.
So why do we waste our stay here on this Earth involved in activities that “kick against the stones” of rhythms and cycles? For example, like the man who wades out into the aquatic grasses on his lakefront property and cuts it all down. What do we expect to achieve? Sure, those grasses are cut down to the waterline for a time but they grow back and he has to repeat the process of cutting them down. It’s like we wage a constant battle of futility against things we can’t change.
Sure, we can come up with ways to create more lasting impact. Like the guy who goes and takes an earth-mover to tear up the same lakefront and then cover it all with white sand to make himself a facsimile of a beach. There’s a nice sandy beach for a time but it doesn’t last. Sediment begins to leave nutrients in the sand and eventually the same grasses that were originally eliminated come back. I’ve seen similar things happen when people try to rid their yards of grass by removing it all and placing a layer of pebbles in its place. Sooner or later grasses and other plants reestablish themselves in it.
Why do we waste away our time and energy in such things? Could we do better to learn from the same rhythms and patterns we try to defy? After all, it’s all connected in some way.
This brings to mind something I observed just the other day. While walking up the driveway I noticed high up in the blue sky a pair of marsh hawks. They seemed to only yards apart gliding on the air currents, barely moving a feather, just holding steady. It fascinated me how they were doing that so I watched them. One of them lifted a wing and veered away to some distance apart from its mate. Despite the fact they were now separated, the two of them still appeared to maintain a connection, staying at the same height. I imagined how they might be glancing at one another with their binocular vision as I saw their heads tilt from side-to-side as they kept their distance.
At one point in this observation, the one who have ventured away circled out even farther. The remaining marsh hawk turned slightly, letting the wind carry it in the general direction of the other. Soon the two of them were in formation as I’d first noticed them. I watched them as they together drifted off together beyond my sight horizon and marveled at how beautiful their ballet of flight had been. It was but another example of how living things stay connected and in-tune with their environment. There are so many ways we can do that.
When we take time to notice and learn about the world around us we make those connections. I know my wife and I after nearly 40-years have grown together to the point that we often know what the other is thinking and complete each other’s sentences. Spending enough time observing weather factors can eventually lead most of us to be familiar enough with patterns of weather that we don’t need to watch for a weather forecast—we come to know what it will be. The same can be true in other natural patterns and rhythms around us. If we pay attention to these things we can respond rather than react to certain things. Take for instance the terrible tsunami that hit Indonesia a couple of years ago. I remember how it was reported when some people noticed the ocean water receding there were those who stood in awe and others who fled. Many of the people who failed to realize what was happening perished.
Another report spoke of a community of natives that observed the wildlife around their village fleeing to high ground. The villagers did the same and as a result they escaped the danger. Being aware of our surroundings and knowing how plants and animals interact can also help us to avoid unfortunate predictable outcomes. Perhaps this reminds you of the consequences that come about when people feed wild animals or fail to realize that house pets left to roam outdoors can also become links in the natural food chain. How many times have we heard about somebody’s Fido becoming lunch for an alligator or Fifi being taken away by some winged raptor? Often times these kinds of things can be avoidable. We just have to be aware and at times know enough to beware.
The wildlife and natural world around us are not something to be feared; respected, yes, but not eliminated as a result of our own ignorance. There are cause and effect relationships in nature. Things interact and impact each other in various ways. Some of them are complicated but others are simple enough for all of us to understand. For example, domesticated cats are meant to house pets not outdoor roamers. When we introduce these animals to an ecosystem around our home there are all kinds of consequences. There’s nothing like being woken up in the middle of the night by a cat fight outside your bedroom window or discovering the unmistakable foul odor of territorial marking. Just the kinds of things to make your life enjoyable. Domesticated pets aren’t really suited for being in the wild.
Natural predators sometimes seek out easy prey in the form of our pets. In some areas, cougars, bears, bobcats, wild pigs, coyotes can be a possible pet threat. A raccoon alone can tear up a cat or dog pretty bad. Snakes too can shorten the lifespan of your dog or cat. But these are all things that can to some degree be avoided with proper precautions and awareness.
Imagine the outcomes we might have if we could learn to recognize the signs and know the interactions we have with our natural world. Perhaps we need to learn how to dance better to our world’s natural rhythms and cycles.