Nature is my mentor. I look to it for critical answers at critical times. As the world spins into a collective mass of anxiety over the COVID-19 pandemic, a regular look outside serves me well, because it provides a cherished interruption to today’s stressful news.
Sure, I worry. But oddly, it’s more vexing to me when people don’t worry enough: when they take life for granted, when they ignore problems, and when they pretend there won’t be consequences. I live with a heightened sense of awareness in a society that foolishly thinks it can rule the earth. I face a fear of pending loss and pain on a daily basis. Thus, I understand. Thus, I want to share with you a few of the answers nature has always provided to my long-hurting heart:
1.) Sharing is necessary.
Scientific research proves that almost everything in a forest or other wild place depends in some way on everything else. You might see this as a precarious house of cards in which, much like the world economy, when one piece drops, the whole system tumbles. Or it can indicate just how powerful every individual is.
I am called to write. Maybe you are called to pray. Or plant a garden. Or teach. Or deliver groceries. Or sit with a child. All you have to do is share the talents given to you, whether that means pollinating flowers, spreading seeds, signaling threats, or leading a flock. Give to support life’s structure; withhold to break its chain.
2.) Local community matters.
The character of an outdoor space can change dramatically within the distance of a just a few feet … a few inches in some places. Plants and animals typically live in colonies and each colony has some sort of boundary. The conditions within match their survival needs. If one was forced to live elsewhere, without the benefit of time to adapt, it would wither from a lack of food, water, sunlight, or in some cases, interaction with the other beings within its preferred colony.
3.) Instinct leads.
Spiders are born knowing how to spin a web. When we look at instinctive behavior in the life around us, we tune into our own wisdom. Trust what your gut is telling you to do. It’s possible you’ll have to quiet your loud, panicked ego first. And know that instinct is not about forcing everyone else to follow what you want; this isn’t about controlling others. It’s about learning how to listen to and act upon your own internal advice.
4.) Signals work.
Just as the colorful flower attracts pollinating bees, repellents such as bad scents, alarming calls, and defensive stances all work to protect the individual when a threat is detected. Sending signals, watching for signals, and responding to signals is key to survival in the woods.
5.) Tragedy brings renewal.
A fallen tree becomes a chipmunk’s home. A forest fire becomes an oasis of fresh growth. Meanwhile, as evident from the intense infernos our wildfires have become today, the more we humans try to keep natural tragedy from playing out naturally, the more we feed the potential for Armageddon. By accepting tragedy with grace, you leave the door open for good things to follow.
Whether you are thinking about health institutions, financial markets, education centers, or social circles, five keys to success are sharing, community, internal awareness, external awareness, and renewal. Currently, a globe full of humans is learning the rippling consequences of domination, expansion, ignorance, and conformity to an unhealthy status quo. Yes, there will be loss–loss I might suffer from dearly–but my observations of how the natural world operates, coupled with a hope for “tipping point” change, is currently calming every fear. May the same be true for you.