Ideas that add up #165

Imagine walking in a deep forest, passing through a magical veil, and coming face to face with one of your wild and free ancestors who lived long ago. Look her in the eyes. Feel her presence. Sense her health and vitality, her strength and solidity, her awareness, the sharpness of her senses. Try to imagine her inner world, her perception of reality, her values and beliefs, her ancient culture of cooperation, sharing and equality. She is your flesh and blood. You are her living descendant. You carry her genes. Yet there is a tremendous gulf between you — two very separate realities, having little in common, like a wolf and a dog.

What is Sustainable by Richard Adrian Reese

Reese is good on wild people, and the lost identity of civilized folk. The notion that we’ve forgotten something rather important – how to be who we really are. Also this: how to love and connect with the land.

I’ve been carrying this idea for a year or so now. Maybe much longer. Either way, it only recently crystallized. Now, more and more, I see the little signs of insanity poking through that steady front most people wear. The emotional tics. The ulcer-inducing anxieties. The meltdowns and wipe-outs. The aggression and self pity. The status games, and posturing and over-consumption. The thrill-seeking and the herd mentality. The “faith”. The Munch-faced scream. The crudeness, loudness and sheer insensitivity of us all. Some people are kind and chilled and strong with it too, but they are rare. Most, it seems, are just about holding it together. Me, I’m in the thick of it – as dependent and implicated as the next man. And feeling rotten about our project of planetary plunder.

But noticing it does bring the tiniest bit of anthropological detachment, which is a kind of consolation. And it’s a relief to know – or at least to take on trust – that there was a way to live, and may yet be again.

Wild people were deeply rooted to their home. They celebrated their land, feasted on its beauty, cared for it, loved it, gave thanks to it. It was a deeply sacred relationship, their connection to the land. They knew that injuring the land was injuring themselves. They had a sense of belonging, which gave their lives purpose and meaning. They knew who they were, why they were here, where they were going.

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