The animals watch us, as we used to watch them.
You've known this since you were a child, but you've chosen to forget.
Allow yourself one early morning watching life without your preconceptions--observe a bird or a squirrel for a few hours. If that's too taxing, follow a beetle as it wanders around a patch of earth or a caterpillar munching on a leaf. A few minutes will not do.
You need not look far, but you need to look if you want to see.
You've also known this since you were a child, but you've been encouraged to forget.
***If you'd rather be cerebral about all this, think about your connection to the earth. Think of your drive to the grocery store, the huge trucks docked in the back, just hidden enough to ignore, back to warehouses, back to airports back to the hands of a man picking and picking and picking.
You can then have a moment, feel bad for the poor picker or feel great about the efficiency of the system, but neither moment lasts, because both are myths--stories whose truth depends on words and what we choose to believe.
Last spring I saw a red-tailed hawk struggling to fly with a writhing baby squirrel in its talons. The baby's desperate mother chased the hawk as far as she could. I watched, wordless. (And still I said "desperate," our myths mold our views.)
We need language to share our observations, of course, but words mostly get in the way if you want to see something new in the familiar. For most of us, the familiar offers shelter and food, safe ideas, but at the cost of compliance with a worldview that leaves a few of us unsettled.
We have stories that help us sustain our belief in the unsustainable, and drugs for when the narrative fails. We slide from valor to Valium.
The world is bigger than our stories.
I teach science, or what the state says is science, but we're losing our way. That hydrogen bonds hold strands of DNA together may be true, but the model is a human conceit, a myth.
|Laguna Design/Science Photo Library, via Nature|
It is a very good myth, an essential one in biology, but when we strive to "teach" children about hydrogen bonds before we teach them that our living requires the death of others, well, they quickly figure out that if they mumble a few words about the catechism of hydrogen bonds, they can get back to their glass screens.
It's easy to condemn children hiding in their virtual worlds inside tiny boxes, but we have been living in a virtual world for generations in this part of the world. Until we offer them something better, until we expect something more from them than obedience to an unkind culture, we will fail to teach them science.
Science starts where our words end.
Get them outside.
The stories of many cultures includes the voices of animals, of plants, of the stars and the seas.