Following nature’s lead.

It’s no secret that I happen to think the natural world is an amazing place. Nature provides for us everything we need to survive: water, oxygen, food and shelter. The natural system that supports us is simple, complicated and just plain miraculous. From beyond the Earth’s atmosphere, the moon drives the tide and the sun illuminates the sky while constant planetary rotation changes the seasons. I’m not alone in my awe, and I’m sure I’m not the only one who sees how humans have come to believe they are above the natural order of things … at least until the power fails.

Alongside us on the planet exists trillions of other organisms, each one well supported by, and adapted to, its natural environment. Each is a part of the system, and each carries its own, unique traits. For instance, the jack rabbit has powerful back legs to run from its predators. The eagle grew broad wings so it can find and hunt the rabbit. While each plays out its role among the whole, it is also true that everything is dependent on everything else. There is much debate on how this all came to be, but one thing’s for sure: we didn’t build it.

Meanwhile, in the artificial world — the one humans have created for comfort and convenience — everything we need to survive is dependent strictly on the actions of another humans. A farmer grows our food, a trucker ships it to the grocery store, a bagger wraps it up for us to carry back to our architect-designed home.

Back in nature’s model, worry is useless. The rabbit can only run from the eagle. It cannot waste time hoping the eagle will suddenly crave something else. All the rabbit can do is act upon its own survival instincts. It does not fret over the global impact of its actions nor does it bother focusing on what other rabbits are doing outside its territory. And if the rabbit does get caught by the eagle, the flower — the rabbit’s food — will live. The cycle of life continues, not in spite of the system, but as a result of it.

Worry in the artificial world is commonplace; it’s a byproduct of omnipotent control. At the root of human worry is the concern for maintaining a constant energy supply. The artificial world needs measurable and deliverable power. Everything is dependent on the actions of those in charge of producing electricity or gasoline or whatever source is present at the time.

And look at the despair that has caused.

You don’t need me to name examples. International, national, regional and local – we are suffering greatly because of power. The headlines are filled with reports that our demands are exceeding the supply, and we’re destroying ecosystems as a result. But instead of weaning us off the problem, we build more “need” into the designs and redesigns of almost every new product on the market.

Sure, we’ve made smart improvements in product efficiency, but think about all the manual tools you can no longer buy. Coffee grinders, clocks, and even thermostats. The products being added to store shelves are not reducing our power consumption, they are continually increasing it.

We fight over sweeping solutions to keep the power flowing. Yet until we each are willing to make our own changes — until we are each willing to wind our clocks instead of plug them in — maintaining our artificial world will always involve destroying elements of the natural one.

No one person can fix this situation we are in. We can’t control what the greedy rabbit is doing on the other side of the mountain, but we can control what we do in our own nest. If we put as much energy into accepting nature into our lives as we do trying to manipulate it to fill our desires, life would continue, not in spite of the fact, but as a result of it.

First, it’s time for the market to demand product designs that use ingenuity instead of electricity. Next time you’re shopping, ask yourself, “Will this item work when the power is out? Is there a non-digital model available? Choose as if you expect the power supply to fail. Tiny changes lead to small changes that lead to a complete transformations. You may not be able to cool the nuclear rods in Japan, but you can send the message that you’d prefer to be unplugged.

Second, instead of trying to fix the whole world, let us address the issues within our own territory – our home or business. Let us each take responsibility for our part in the system.

Third, let us do our best to work within nature’s laws in everything we do. We must relinquish some control before the solutions to our current state of despair will be revealed. This includes everything from turning down the heat to letting darkness fill the night sky.

Let us not try to change the eagle but become swifter, stronger and more clever rabbits.