Nature Experience for Young People
By Dennis Klocek
Nature is a broad array of events. As a result, there are many kinds of nature experiences. It is useful to consider which “nature” we mean when we use the word. Here are some thoughts about different experiences of nature and how they affect our relationship to it.
Nature as wilderness
This gives solace and spiritual growth then it’s back to the day job. This nature is wise but not free due to being activated by instincts. The wisdom of the Sierras is evident but pack water and something to eat unless rocks and pine bark are going to be your lunch. Those nature rules are infinitely wise but they are not free.
Nature as resource
This nature experience has a higher degree of freedom. In it, humans use natural things to create things that are not natural but human. Human non-natural things like cooking food and weeding. Cooking is not natural (evidence: fast forward McDonald’s). In Nature as a resource, elements of nature are seen by humans as substances and forces that can be used to do other things, like build cities and technology. This includes getting the technical knowledge to sustain a garden in a forbidding place. Agriculture in this way walks a line between experiencing nature as a home to other living things or the means to a human end. If my nature experience involves interacting with beingness, I treat things I find there differently than if my experience is of something I use for personal gain. For example: geobotanical prospecting for a mining company leaves me seeing the forest and the ground as money generating.
Nature and human will
The above inner experiences give rise to many different motives or intents when humans take up working in nature. Understanding how our food is grown and the possible ways to farm allows for meaningful engagement with nature and our place it.
The intent to do sustainable agriculture is sensible for human evolution. However, the approach gradually veers towards economic issues as the basis for the interaction. The historical development of this approach began as regenerative agriculture based on human interaction with earth ecology. To do this on a broad scale regenerative practices found a base in hard data, resource-based thinking, climate change policy, future technology, and the role of people in agriculture. This is great but it does not have the same heart nutrition as a walk in the woods or the same learning potential as tending a small garden where one lives in order to produce one’s own food. The rational emphasis overrides the recognition of a spiritual or soul aspect that a human can have when involved in a nature experience.
Subsistence farming is driven by cycles of drought and flood. This has been solved by pumping groundwater. But that upsets stability in other areas like health so then we need sustainability in agriculture. Failure of subsistence agriculture is a strong impetus to widespread human migration. In good times subsistence agriculture is economical, but in bad times it is life-threatening. There is no middle ground.
Synergy from natural sources can be both sustainable and help avoid food shortages in areas impacted by subsistence agriculture. Traditional kitchen garden (family food and protein) along with cash crop is what the old ones practiced. This was sustainable due to the original goal of ecological harmony. Like the doctor’s oath, sustenance agriculture makes sure to first do no harm. That is regenerative ecology that has little to do with world economics or carbon pricing. It allows for local produce to be produced, processed, and consumed locally. It fosters a deep interdependence between cosmic seasonal rhythms and human activity. The result of that is an urge to celebrate the link between what is holy in nature and what is holy in the human being. This creates rituals, festivals, and meetings of the heart between humans with common purposes. Those being to honor the earth, live in harmony with the land, and designate days in the flow of time to honor and celebrate La Santa Madre who watches over the beings of the natural world and over the natural dimensions of the human spirit.
Humans seeking sustenance from nature is different than humans using nature as a resource. The difference lies in the human attitude towards foods from nature. When humans can participate in the labor to produce and preserve life-filled substances by making sauerkraut or prosciutto or pear butter from produce that they helped come to the table, it creates a very linked feeling to the creation. This involves more than just substances put into a digestive system at any level (eating or making compost). It involves how substances are assimilated or digested by the being who is animating that “system” or cosmos of digestion. That animating being would be me if I’m eating or the elementary world if its compost. Or even the elementary world (minerals, migrations, and microbes) working away in both.
Meaningful work is the most important activity for a growing person. Work is best when it is accompanied by expanding both learning and the senses. If not then work is just a job. Observation of soils, plants, and animals in nature through farming and gardening teaching can be a way to show a growing person that nature has a soul that is kindred to human soul life and that tending to nature can be a way to learn about the human spirit.
Dennis Klocek, MFA, is co-founder of the Coros Institute, an internationally renowned lecturer, and teacher. He is the author of nine books, including the newly released Colors of the Soul; Esoteric Physiology and also Sacred Agriculture: The Alchemy of Biodynamics. He regularly shares his alchemical, spiritual, and scientific insights at dennisklocek.com.
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