We hear so much bad news. We hear the about corruption in business and governments. We hear about religion tearing the world apart with extremism. We hear about war and the effects of climate change ravaging whole nations with droughts, famines, fires, floods, refugees and epidemics. We hear horrific cases of murder, injustice, racism, sexism, — Every “Ism.” Things fall apart.
You just want to make a fair living, put food in front of your family. Save enough money to live as resources cost more each day. You want to know there is hope for the very planet we live with. Well, don’t despair. Act. One way to act is to get to know the truth about human standing in nature. That science is called Ecopsychology and it offers more than one path toward more harmonious living. There are thousands upon thousands of solutions to our problems, and each of them is predicated with the same question:
What can I choose today that is a better choice for life tomorrow?
It could be the choice of reusable bag you take to the store. It could be a choice to buy clothes or house-wares second-hand, and thereby reduce cost, waste, energy consumption and packaging. It could be a choice to take a shorter shower, to bike instead of drive, to eat healthy once in a while rather than eat what is processed and convenient. The common thread of all your choices is that you remain conscious that you have the power to designate the kind of difference you choose to make.
All of us can and do have an impact, in big ways, by say limiting family size, and in small ways, by producing less trash or using fewer toxins in housework or yard care.
We owe everything to nature, or to God, as some call the creator and creation. Let’s live lives that are abundant and celebratory. Research has shown that appreciation is one of the most easily achieved states of consciousness that makes an enormous difference in people’s daily lives. A person who daily lists and contemplates gratitude is healthier, happier and more pleasant to be around than someone who nitpicks at every negative annoyance.
Nature rewards those that take the time to see wonders and strength, resilience and power. People who spend time out of doors are the most likely to find nature’s allures and be grateful for them. The workings, wonder and beauty we see in nature attract us universally. In the field of Ecopsychology, or our belonging to a biosphere, these attractions are defined as life-lines, web strings, living threads or in this case: Selene allures.
Nature is resilient and forgiving. This is not because nature cares. It is because the truth tells us nature treats all life as equal. Nature does not play favorites. Nature is reliable, unbiased. True. Pure. Heart of gold true.
Religion often puts one side against another, in the worst-case scenario, it tells people outright to discriminate; to favor the believers only. It is not just monotheism that does this. All religions include the failure of human interference. Nor is godless ideology necessarily better. Any belief system that favors any part of the whole over the whole itself is questionable.
Some of us prefer science to religion, but that does not mean we should give up on spirituality. A quick perusal of the most influential atheists on Earth will show that wonder, awe, and a spiritual sense of connection remains vital to human well-being. No less than Dr. Richard Dawkins called his book The Magic Of Reality.
You can take heart in this. Take the Robert Frost view, that “Nothing gold can stay.*” This truth (Dawkins would likely point out it is a poetic truth) tells us that change is constant, beauty is ephemeral, and we need to tap into that beauty if we are to cope with the churning turmoil of an uncertain world.
The leaf I photographed above is dead and brown now. It had already begun to decay the moment I brought it home. But, it’s a pure golden heart that caught my eye. A Selene allure is the name I give to those attractions or web-strings that draw us in and provide us with perspective, insight, healing, and beauty. Selene is one of the many names given to the personification of the moon. And, the moon, aka Diana, (Wonder Woman for a movie and comic fans, if you prefer) pulls the tides, and menses of all life-giving organisms. The moon is also a softer reflection of the life-giving sun. Without sun or moon, of course, our planet would be devoid of life.
Selene Allures, then, are those shimmering threads that tug at your attention when you glance out the window, or walk in the park, or laugh with your dog or cat. They are our life-lines, literally, that Ralph Waldo Emerson would invite you to wrap around your hopes and dreams to “hitch your wagon to a star.” He meant it literally, too, explaining in 1862 that we can borrow the might of the elements; the pulling systems of magnetism, gravity, wind, light, and fire. These natural miracles weave all life into an immense, glimmering tapestry.
And today, these things are more important than ever before. We have learned that the light of the sun — in addition to pulling a billion seeds to become carbon sinks in forest and phytoplankton — the sun is a tremendous source of limitless power which allows us to go green with solar and wind. Although the international cooperation emphasis is meaningful, we may not need to be in the Paris Climate Accord to be empowered. We just need every man, woman, and child to see the golden glow of clean energy that nature offers us to escape our fossil fuel addiction. Being grateful for the warmth that aids photosynthesis is no small thing, and neither is our poetic privilege to enjoy the vista of a sun-kissed sea.
Nature allows us to participate in creation, and we can often find healing and resilience in this if we just turn off all the devices that distract us for a few moments. As social animals, we evolved to interact most effectively in person and in contact with all the living beings that sustain and enrich life.
This is demonstrated, ironically enough in all advertising. Images of the great outdoors are used to sell everything from candy to cars. What you will never see in an advertisement is the linking of over-consumption to garbage. Garbage is something that human beings created and nature quietly tries to flush out of the system. But our persistence and insistence that we come first results in an ugliness and destructive force that hurts the natural world and ourselves.
However, since people have become aware of how the lethal strangle of a plastic fishing line hurts the very beauty and creatures we admire, efforts are being made to reverse the trend. Countless measures, and profitable ones, are being taken to change us from a polluting species to a compassionate and loving race. Your attraction to this trend — to being part of the solutions — is also a Selene allure.
Many a very wise person has advised us to get in touch with nature. Einstein said we can understand everything better when we explore nature more deeply. John Muir preached the gospel of wilderness. Walt Whitman and W.B. Yeats also discovered nature in wildness but suggested we can find nature accessible in our own backyards, even in our own bodies. Later converts include people as diverse as Rachel Carson, EO Wilson, Carl Sagan, and Jane Goodall.
In reality, however, even as small children we can open our eyes and ears to see and hear the splendid songs of nature for ourselves. And, when we listen, we learn how to be better children of the Earth.
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