I hope everyone reading this is having a pleasant day today. I just recently completed a backpacking trip through some of the more remote parts of the country. It was physically demanding, but it gave me quite a bit of inner peace. I did not have cell reception for even a moment the whole trip! Sometimes it’s nice to disconnect from the technological world and reconnect with the people that are genuinely close to you, as well as the universe as a whole.
I know that sounds a little strange, how can someone connect with the universe? That’s some hippy-dippy bullshit for sure! Let me try to explain. Typically, during the day we would hike in the morning and rest before the hottest part of the day hit. We would continue in the evening for a few miles before stopping and sleeping for the night. On one particular day, I ate a large dose of mushrooms during the hike, but thats not the point here.
During the day I occupied myself by watching the world around me, plants opening themselves up to the sun, insects of all kinds flying and crawling and scurrying, each little animal or plant making up a whole ecosystem that seemed greater than the sum of its parts. Each creature or plant was a cog in a greater machine that "does life". And there I was in the middle of it.
As night fell, I laid in my hammock under the open sky. As the sun set each night, the stars would come out. I was dozens and dozens of miles away from anything even resembling a city or town. The light polution was essentially zero. As twilight passed and it moved on to the darkest time of night, the field of stars above me was breathtaking. Imagine stars packed together so tight that there was hardly any empty space between them. I could almost feel the earth spinning under me. The light alone from the stars was enough to see by.
At first I considered myself to be an observer to this interaction between sun, plant, bird, animal, insect, and clear night sky, but after some deliberation I found myself unable to meaningfully separate myself from the environment. I am a part of this just as much as those plants were, soaking up the sun. In the same way that the ecosystem around me carries out its series of interactions that makes it all work, the universe is doing the very same thing on a much larger scale. And on a very fundamental level, I am a part of those interactions. I recalled the words of Alan Watts,
Look, here is a tree in the garden and every summer is produces apples, and we call it an apple tree because the tree "apples." That's what it does. Alright, now here is a solar system inside a galaxy, and one of the peculiarities of this solar system is that at least on the planet Earth, the thing peoples! In just the same way that an apple tree apples!
We came into being here on Earth in the same way as everything else. We literally grew out of the environment! Some people say we "Came into this world" as children, but that’s not true. We came out of it! There seems to be some indominable feeling of being "other" in our society, like we are all collectively visiting someone’s home and we had better be on our best behavior because this isn't our place. But again, thats not true. This is our place. We do belong here. We belong here as much as apples belong on apple trees.
So I guess I now get to the point of all this rambling. During most of our daily lives we are insulated in a way from the rest of the universe. We live in lives partitioned off from nature, with artificial lights so bright that you can't even see the stars at night. When you live like that for so long, its easy to forget what you're a part of and where you came from. It's easy to focus on the small distractions that society provides and to neglect the actual world all around you. This year is an election year, so people are pulling out all the stops to make you/re distressed, worried, concerned, scared, and angry. Forces are working harder than ever to make us see a mortal enemy where none exists and to make us forget that fundamental connection we have with the world and each other. Go outside, go really far outside, go as deep into the wilderness as you can and hopefully you can discover that connection.