I have just returned from a 6 week trip to Africa where I was studying wilderness survival, tracking, animal behavior, and local plants. I got to meet with chiefs of tribes, medicine women, expert trackers, other film makers, local green celebrities, and much more. It was an incredible trip and we produced an amazing movie out of it (set to release next year).
We visited the main theme of our journey quite often and much light has been shed on the subject. The essential question was: why and how have we gone so astray and how can we possibly fix it before the ecosystem starts to unravel and life on the planet is compromised?Tough question but we asked it daily and worked towards the resolution from many angles.
What it really comes down to is the NATURE is real. We live in a society where most of us revolve our entire lives around abstract concepts that are HUMAN creations. We are so wrapped up in our fantastic creations of vehicles, systems, groups, and technology that we have forgotten the essential source of all of it- nature. Living in a non-fenced camp in Africa, we had lions, leopards, haenas, elephants, black mambas, and all kinds of crazy insects roaming around us the whole time. One thing is for sure out there- we are not the biggest and baddest. In fact, we don’t stand a chance in a physical confrontation with most of these animals. The one thing that has ensured our survival has been the development of our brains and our ability to use technologies to overcome the odds out in the wild. In fact, we got so good at it that we now take it for granted- again, forgetting where we come from.
Now I’m not trying to be regressive here when I speak about returning to nature. Let’s not throw our tools away just yet. The point is BALANCE. I’ve found that people who reconnect with nature often are far more sane and well-adjusted. Developing a love for the wild teaches us many things. Spending time out there changes our lives. One thing I learned rather quickly was that none of the dangerous animals out there were “out to get me” like most city people think. The key is to understand their nature and behaviors and navigate around danger. Having spent time with the Makuleke elders, they told us of stories of their children walking alone in the bush for several miles a day. Their knowledge of their environment left them with nothing to fear. Knowing what to do when you run into a lion in the wild is liberating.
This leads me to my final point for this post. We are so wrapped up in the day-to-day throws of SURVIVAL in our urban lives, we have lost touch with where that stress really comes from. Mastering real survival teaches us how to be fully embodied and well-adjusted humans. Most urban people have no clue about this and they live their lives with a low-grade anxiety that simmers just under the surface of their conscious minds- ready to explode. Facing our mortality gives meaning to life. We live in a culture where our health is assured to us by the medical system (false!) and our security is assured by the police (again, false). We have removed ourselves from the reality of the jungle and have become complacent and weak. We spent millions of years learning to master our environment and excelling as a species and now, in the course of a few hundred years, have forgotten where we came from and become fat and complacent. Our monetary system insulates us from how food is really derived and where heat, water, power, and resources come from. We just pay money and these things appear magically.
The fact of the matter is, we are all facing survival in one way or another every day. Some of us sweat our bills while others worry about getting old and dying. We can read about all of the abstract concepts that we want. Nothing replaces grounding back into nature and understanding who we are and where we come from!