On this celebration of Earth Day, I invite you to take a moment to indulge in that which you may take for granted.
Right now, we are residing on a landmass that is traveling over 100,000km/h around a giant spherical ball of hot plasma in a near-perfect circular orbital pattern. An unfathomable amount of power and substance – gross and subtle – has synchronized and synergized to manifest our reality. We are passive beneficiaries of a perpetual celestial choreography that harmonizes a marvelous series of circumstances that enable us to exist as a human species in this life-sustaining environment. We are composed of the same exquisite conglomeration of matter that we refer to as Earth; we are not separate from it, and at any given moment we are blessed with the ability to relish the experience of union with our natural environment.
Yet, there is something about us humans. We seem to be driven by a need to prove the worth of our species by creating something “superior” to what we have been given. Modern society is littered with examples of obvious failures: strip malls, poorly conceived and constructed buildings, towns, and cities; massive landfill sites, defiled ecosystems etc. Currently, there is a massive commitment of resources to, as well as, consumption and utilization of something that is nebulous compared to the examples above: technology.
Like money, one could say that technology is neither good nor bad, rather it all depends on “how you use it”. For example, advances in renewable energy technologies that harness the power of the sun, wind and water are good; carbon dioxide emitting vehicles and factories bad; the potential of 3D printing or the ability to access an endless stream of information at your fingertips via the Internet, great, right?
Yet, as we walk around glued to smartphones (and soon digitized glasses, and self-driven cars), one might ask the question: “At what point do technological advancements that make our lives ‘easier’ become overkill, and divorce us from experiencing our inherent oneness with Nature?”
When we conceive of a collective future, what visions do we hold? What is humanity consciously or unconsciously progressing towards?
Think for a moment about a film that you have seen that depicts the future, any film… What was the picture it painted? What was the state of Earth and its natural environment? Had it seen an apocalypse? Was the overarching narrative of the film based upon robotic or space travel technologies?
I find it fascinating that the majority of futuristic visions either deify technological advancements as the pinnacle of human progress or position the human experience in a “technological” backdrop where Earth is either in dire peril or its organic characteristics are nearly unrecognizable.
The drive to innovate represents so much of what is wonderful about humankind. It seems that a simple shift to combine a deep sense of purpose with our advancement efforts would yield great result. Instead of hurling ourselves at increasing velocity into a digital and metallic realm of disconnectedness, danger and confusion, we could summon our heroic instincts to save ourselves, from ourselves.
As convenient as it is to search for driving directions on the same device upon which you are speaking to a friend across the country, can your smartphone guide you to the experience of tranquility that arises from listening to the wind rustle through the leaves on a brisk autumn day? When you ride to work in a car that is automatically driven without the need for your participation, will it elicit the kind of joy that comes from playing in the ocean? Will the fascination of watching an HDTV with vivid picture quality ever transcend the wonder evoked by gazing upon the night sky?
On this celebration of Earth Day, I invite you to take a moment to indulge in that which you may take for granted. Behold the fresh shoots and buds bursting forth from resilient trees that have endured the harsh cold of an extended winter. Take a deep breath. Listen to the sound of running water or the chatter of birds. Bite into a piece of fresh fruit and feel its nectar trickle down the back of your throat. Grow still and contemplate what it must be like beneath the Earth’s surface or in the vast expanses of deep space…
As you acknowledge the benevolent power that is the source of your existence, know that a simple moment of recognition is also a powerful act of humility. From this space, may you explore, discover and create; may you celebrate that which is and declare to the universe: it will continue to be.