|In February 2004, it began to dawn on me why I was so unhappy, why I felt trapped and disengaged inside what I was coming to perceive as civilization’s prison walls. I was well along in absorbing the lessons I’ve since compiled in my Save the World Reading List, and was going through a period of profound self-change. This is what I wrote:
Ducklings — photo by my friend & colleague Karen’s sister
I am beginning to believe that civilization has so warped us that, to a greater or lesser degree, we have all forgotten who we really are. Perhaps some of us never knew. Who are we? We are each our own story, a culture of one. Our story begins at birth with a discovery, an exploration, a connection with the world around us. Whether we are human or animal, we are at first profoundly connected to the rest of the world through our senses. We are filled with wonder. We are incredibly vulnerable, but we are not helpless. It will take several years before the brainwashing of those who have forgotten who they really are convince us that without them, we are helpless. The real truth is that we are brilliantly equipped for survival. Evolution has seen to that.
If we were living outside of our terrible civilization, the first things we would learn would all be through our senses. Our senses are there to give us joy, to make us want to live, and to help us survive and thrive in communion with the rest of life on Earth of which we are a part. As animal babies we immediately start to move around and see, hear, feel, smell, and taste. We do the things that give us sensory pleasure. Our instincts guide us — they tell us to smell our Mother’s breath to learn what is good to eat, and find those things to eat, and, for reasons we don’t really understand, or need to, not to eat other things. And our instincts also tell us when to flee and what to flee from, when to migrate, and when to stay and, if need be, to fight. We learn enough language, depending on our species, to communicate the location of food, our presence, and the presence of danger, and to express ourselves. But most of our time for our wholelives is spent just experiencing sensations and enjoying life.