building a beautiful and bountiful world in collaboration with nature

I did a little blog surfing after publishing my last post, looking to see what others were saying about gophers.  One of the blogs I found had a post entitled “Gardening is Killing.” (Link below.)  Well, yes, that’s one way of looking at everything from trapping gophers and squashing Harlequin bugs to harvesting carrots.  It’s an idea that rests on a few major assumptions:  First, that the world is composed of separate things.  Second, that these separate things are in a constant competition for survival.  Third, that the survival of some of these independent things is the goal of life.

None of which is true.  Scientists in disciplines as diverse as ecology, quantum physics, epigenetics, and social psychology have demolished much of the evidence that the old, “survival of the fittest” story is based on.

Storymaking and storytelling are two of our uniquely human skills.  Everyone does it.  Some of us use avenues such as blogging and all of us through the simple act of thinking a few thoughts.  I started this year by posing a question: What is the potential ecological role of humans here on Earth?  One of the things I am understanding about that question is that the stories we tell to each other and to ourselves about our role in our gardens and here on Earth has a huge impact on how we behave and what our actual ecological role is and will become.

Is gardening a constant, bloody battle?  Sure it is, if the story you tell in your head is based on the existence of independent creatures struggling just to survive.  But that’s an old story.  We’ve disproven it.  We have new and more useful stories to tell now.

In the new story, we live in an interconnected system composed of “relatively independent”, but not truly separate parts.  From the discovery of the primacy of nonlocality and entanglement in quantum physics, to the documented rejuvenation of the riparian zones of Yellowstone because of the reintroduction of wolves, to the carrots and pigs that energize, repair, and rejuvenate my body’s cells as I eat them, to the winds that blow from China to California, this planet is a network of absolutely interconnected and ever shifting flows of energy, matter, and information.  Yes!

In the new story, we live on a planet that was and is built through cooperative interactions.  From the early alliance of our mitochondrial and cellular ancestors building the millions, even billions, of species of multicellular creatures, to the bacteria which out number us in our own bodies as they support our ability to digest (among many other things), to the atmospheric balancing act of oxygen-breathing animals with carbon dioxide-breathing plants, cooperation builds the conditions needed for the ever evolving and complexing biological diversity of this glorious garden planet.  Yes!

In the new story, we live in an intelligent universe.  From the water of this world with its amazing ability to hold memory, to the plants that can read our minds as they perceive, and decide, and remember without the help of brains, to the biophotons of light that regulate our internal biochemistry while communicating with everything around us, intelligence and organization and meaning surround us every step of the way.  To quote the Bioneers motto, “It’s all alive.  It’s all intelligent.  It’s all relatives.”  Yes!

As I spend time in my garden, I tell myself this new story.  I am not truly separate from the gophers.  We are part of the same continuum of life living Earth into being.  Our interactions are multifaceted, complex, and dynamic beyond what my conscious mind can comprehend at this time.  Occasionally, these interactions end in the de-animation of a gopher body and the enhanced animation of ant and earthworm bodies.  Life leaps unbounded from one form to another.  In my story, gardening is vibrant, cooperative, interconnected and living.

Note:  Some of the best books to read to support this new story are Lynn McTaggart’s The Bond and Fritjof Capra’s The Web of Life as well as The Secret Life of Plants and Secrets of the Soil by Peter Tompkins and Christopher Bird.


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