Category Archives: Nature

Study of the natural world

Nature is stronger than humanity

Nature is stronger than humanity in any struggle.

Nature is opportunistic taking advantage of any situation to live, grow and procreate.  This young starling in Colchester is a member of a species that successfully uses the roof structures of town houses to nest in.

Nature is opportunistic taking advantage of any situation to live, grow and procreate. This young starling in Colchester is a member of a species that successfully uses the roof structures of town houses to nest in.

Walking in a location called Hilly Fields in Colchester with my camera I met a fellow visitor who remembered the place as an empty set of fields for cattle during the 1970′s.  Over forty years later Hilly Fields is woodland, and it is hard to imagine this place now with no trees but grassland for cows.  Nature will quickly take over a place and return a wasteland to a living chaos of rampant plant and animal if the opportunity arises.

Even in my garden I see the procreative power of nature.  I can mow the lawn and four days later it flowers and fast growing vegetation cover the lawn again.  I remove the so-called weeds from the paving stones in the same garden, but days later the same plants emerge again.  In battle with nature over my garden, nature is winning.

There is a wonderful set of photographs showing how nature has run wild in Detroit in the USA, which was hit hard by the economic chaos from 2007.   People have abandoned whole neighborhoods in Detroit, and nature has taken advantage, a metaphor of the power of nature against human civilisation.  It is highly unlikely humanity can kill off all plants and animals on planet earth, there will come a tipping point when it becomes unsustainable for humanity to survive as a species, and nature will from the remaining plants and animals create tens of millions of new versions to replace the losses.  Detroit is a perfect metaphor of natures strength against humanity, a lesson to heed unless humanity wants to experience Detroit across the face of human civilisation.

Camping in nature

Connect with nature in a tent.

Nature is ready to meet and play with adventurous campers.

Nature is ready to meet and play with adventurous campers.

I write this in a thunderstorm in a tent.  I feel secure as the wind seeks to send me off like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz.  The rain beats its drum upon the tent canvas, as the beast roars its war cry in flashes of white across the heavens.

It is hot.  My relief from the heat is this tent, many times cooler than the poor people living in their over-warm houses tonight.  It was so warm I worked in the garden this evening.  There were large orange “Day Lilies” nearby making me nervous, they close their flowers at night making sudden jerky noises, but I fail to catch their movements, just their quivering in the still air.  My imagination runs wild, they will pull me in amongst them and eat me.

The times I camped in winter  I find it is easier to warm this tent, and stay warm, than the larger space of a room, or an entire house.

Camping in nature comes with certain expectations.  You will be sharing your space with the local wildlife.  I get used to the spiders, ants, beetles that take up residence, the spiders even have built nests in this tent for their babies.  I occasionally leave the tent in place so long some plants grow along the guy ropes.  Be prepared for visits from the local animals, which recently for me included foxes, frogs and hedgehogs; they all are curious and like to share your home comforts. Also, expect surprises, nature is playful: foxes chewed through my guy ropes one night so that the tent fell down on me in a rain storm; a falling tree could have crushed me last year; I woke in flood water a month ago; I have a regular sport chasing out various creatures; I suffer from collisions from passing, mating or fighting animals.  Just now, in the rain, frogs are hopping on and around the tent.

Camping has helped me connect with nature, you cannot help but learn the harsh and beautiful faces that nature presents.  Unusual and unique adventures await the camper.  It is a beautiful experience to wake up as the first bird sings the new day in, followed by others into a full dawn chorus.

Relating business to planet earth

Placing planet earth at the heart of a business.

My experiences in nature directly impacts how I run my business.  My relationship and treatment to planet earth is no different to that I have with my oak sapling.

My experiences in nature directly impacts how I run my business. My relationship and treatment of planet earth is no different to that I have with my oak saplings.

Summer, I camp a lot. I often evict wildlife from my tent, this morning it was a grasshopper. Sharing life intimately with wild creatures gives you a different outlook on life compared to most people.

In the garden I note my oak saplings are growing fast, needing larger pots.  I have cared for these oak saplings from acorns, of the original thirteen acorns, eight survived to grow into oak saplings. Caring for wild things changes your viewpoint.

I watched a video over the weekend about the relationship of the neolithic builders of Stonehenge and the River Avon, how they held the river as sacred, a source of all the animals which they hunted that came to the river to drink.  The reverence for water, the landscape, the animals of the Stonehenge builders is the same as that of the cave painters of Chauvet twenty-thousand years earlier who painted a stampede of animals coming out of a vulva-like water source in their cave.

I discover my values and personal insights from how I react to what I see and experience in the world around me. I reacted in anger at the greed and vanity of money investors in business ideas in the US reality television series Shark Tank on YouTube.  I reacted in dismay at the wasteful stupidity portrayed in a video on consumerism: people queuing for a week to get hold of the latest iPhone, whose only enhancement from the last was its colour; IKEA marketing telling consumers to throw out perfectly good possessions; Apple designing a new type of screw on its smartphones in order to prevent people repairing damaged phones, thus encouraging waste; the extensive scams brands go to called obsolescence to make objects the consumer buys break quickly increasing waste and needless replacement.  The contempt the modern economic paradigm has to this planet is at odds with our human ancestors, and at odds with my worldview.

I am part of a new business paradigm, where I can compete against rivals on equal terms with innovation and clever strategies, but where I care for the planet earth in the same manner as I cared for the grasshopper this morning and my oak saplings.  In thinking on these matters in the garden this morning, my garden fox Amber appeared, yawned, then went to sleep in the sun.

Working and connecting with nature

Ignorance and working against nature has harmful consequences.

Cows are dangerous.  Every year in the UK a walker dies because of their ignorance and lack of respect of cows.

Cows are dangerous. Every year in the UK a walker dies because of their ignorance and lack of respect of cows.

My ability connecting with nature is the result of seeing nature for what it is, and acting in harmony with nature.  The story of polar bears reinforces my point.

A student from my town of Colchester travelled with others to Svalbard Island in Norway known for its population of polar bears.  First ideal is knowing that polar bears are dangerous you keep away from their territories unless it is a matter of vital importance; these students went for the fun of it.  Second ideal is knowing the danger and being prepared for it; these students had no night watch, their trip alarm set in a triangle rather than a rectangle, their gun needed a paperclip to work.  A student died in a polar bear attack, and injured four other members of the expedition.  The polar bear died of its injuries.  Had people respected nature a polar bear and humans would have avoided death and injury.

The video below is about polar bears and huskies working in beautiful harmony.  The owner of the huskies respects the polar bears inherent wildness and works with nature, using fire crackers to educate the polar bears to keep their distance from him at all times.

One in nature

The joy of knowing nature and self are one.

The butterfly and I enjoyed a common connection in the sun on a fallen tree - we became one.

The butterfly and I enjoyed a common connection in the sun on a fallen tree – we became one.

Sitting upon a fallen dead tree, one that could have but did not kill me when it fell in the storms last year, an orange butterfly flew and settled next to me.  Here we were, butterfly and I, enjoying the warm sun sitting on the same tree trunk like two people on a park bench.  The butterfly would after a time fly away returning later to sit next to me.  In this moment I shared something in common with this butterfly, different species, but living on and coming from the same planet earth.

Another day it is raining, I huddle under the garden conifers eating raspberries, watching the clouds empty their water upon a thirsty garden, my cat Pebbles sitting at my feet.  Out of the fallen branches two little mice played, oblivious to me and the cat, which did not seem to notice them.

For many people there are degrees of separation from nature, us and them.  For some like me, Ubuntu, I am because we are.  There is only connection, the animals and I are one.

Camping in the rain, a knocking at the tent door.  I looked out of the tent, I looked into the eyes of a frog, which then vanished into the rainy darkness.

A life infested with surprise

Navigate towards goals by position and expect surprises.

The road to your goals will hide unexpected surprises that hinder and support you. Placing yourself in a position to handle the surprises will make life easier in achieving your goals.

The road to your goals will hide unexpected surprises that hinder and support you. Placing yourself in a position to handle the surprises will make life easier in achieving your goals.

Whilst I may have no desire to climb mountains or throw myself out of aircraft, small and insignificant changes in how I live my life result in mind-blowing adventures and outcomes.  Two insignificant things I do is I like to pick up unusual sticks or stones on the ground, and I like to read or think about philosophy in public or nature areas in Colchester.  Doing both these things this week, a stick in one hand, thinking about Heraclitus whilst enjoying the sun on a bench facing the ancient Roman walls, someone rang the police to report a man with a knife.  Fifteen minutes later I am in a surreal situation wasting half-an-hour talking to a police officer, my harmless stick on a wall, drinking a carton of milk having been stopped on my way home.

Experience has taught me how pointless it is to impose control on my life and plans.  Perfect and hard-worked plans to prevent or achieve outcomes fail because events happen that are often billions-to-one odds of happening.  As I sit in dismay and confusion of the wreckage of beautiful ruined plans I feel an evil gremlin has deliberately set out on a sadistic mission to make my life difficult.  One face of nature is random, and another face is self-ordering so that all outcomes appear in a paradox of synchronicity out of random and seemingly related events.

Having goals is good, but a controlled plan to those goals is going to disappoint you.  Better to have a flexible plan, and the attitude of a navigator on rough seas in working towards your goals.  Better to think in terms of position rather than roads in working towards goals, since if you are in a good position in relation to your goals you can seize unexpected friendly opportunities that assist you reaching your goals, and navigate around the surprise hostile opportunities that appear to undermine you in your efforts to reach goals.  Nothing is deterministic, but some weird order emerges in the random events that manifest as you work towards your goals.

72. Fire in its progress will catch all things by surprise and judge them. Heraclitus.

Nature loves to hide itself

Nature is at each moment in a state of becoming.

I was caught by surprise today as Amber our garden fox suddenly materialised behind my back and went to sleep near my oak saplings.  There is one acorn that has yet to show shoots, and I hope one morning to discover the last oak sapling to emerge into becoming.

Amber our garden fox suddenly materialised from hiding behind my back today and went to sleep near my oak saplings. There is one acorn that has yet to show shoots, and I hope one morning to discover the last oak sapling to emerge into becoming.

In the modern context the word nature often describes end states, the delusion that the river we might see in front of us is a permanent end state.  In ancient Greek philosophy nature is in a state of coming into and going out of existence, a state of becoming, which changes one moment to the next.  In the Ice Age a river ran near my house full of fish, today it is a road full of cars, the river is long gone.  Evolution reflects this sense of becoming, the T-Rex dinosaurs may have chased our ancestors for lunch yesterday, but today it is often the human chasing the animal the T-Rex changed into, the chicken.

If you orientated yourself into living in a world of becoming rather than fixed states, you will live in reality rather than delusion.  This new perception helps you to let go of attachments, because everything around you is temporary and changing.

Heraclitus in his cryptic observation of nature said:

17. Nature loves to hide itself.

I sat in a wood yesterday working out what Heraclitus meant, and a baby bunny rabbit appeared from the bushes, watched me a few minutes, then vanished.  As nature is in a state of becoming, in any one moment the old reality is fading away, and a new reality is coming into view.  In any one moment we live in a ghostly world of things fading out and coming into existence, though our brains process the moment as one end state.  Reality is nature in a state of hiding, the fading away and coming into existence is like the rabbit half-hidden in the bushes.  It is because of this ghostly state we exist in that we gain a sense of time, or things in motion, and it may be so that Zeno was right when he says motion as we see it may be a delusion, as he demonstrated by his paradoxes such as the Arrow.

“If everything when it occupies an equal space is at rest, and if that which is in locomotion is always occupying such a space at any moment, the flying arrow is therefore motionless.” Zeno of Elea.

Through strife good outcomes emerge

 When life is easy, beware.

Only through the strife of sun and rain storm did this beautiful Summer Solstice rainbow emerge.

Only through the strife of sun and rain storm did this beautiful Summer Solstice rainbow emerge in Colchester.

The philosopher Heraclitus has restored my hope in humanity, though the path to that hope will be through extreme suffering.  Heraclitus said through conflict/struggle all things become:

26. It should be understood that war is the common condition, that strife is justice, and that all things come to pass through the compulsion of strife. Heraclitus.

If conflict/struggle did not exist, all things would cease to exist.  There would be no rainbows for instance if there was no opposition of rain storm and sun.

27. Homer was wrong in saying, “Would that strife might perish from amongst gods and men” . For if that were to occur, then all things would cease to exist. Heraclitus.

When there is no strife, things fall apart. When you stop using your brain and muscles it is inevitable that they will begin to weaken and atrophy, whilst if subjected to the pain of exercise, the brain and muscles become strong and efficient.

50. Even the sacred barley drink separates when it is not stirred. Heraclitus

When life is easy, when there is no struggle, the worst of human nature comes forth, followed by tragedy and ruin. Think of the spoilt child who gets everything they demand from their parents, I know of no case study that a spoilt child turned into a wise, caring and humble adult.

96. May you have plenty of wealth, you men of Ephesus, in order that you may be punished for your evil ways. Heraclitus.

I made a study of the newest generation of teenagers in the UK to get a rough idea of how the future might unfold under their rule.  Experts call the new generation, Generation Citizen (Generation C) a caring-sharing generation, interested in their communities and social issues.  Gen C are conservative, non-rebellious, and the most ambitious generation in a hundred years.  Compared to other generations the UK Gen C score low on crime, drug abuse, drinking alcohol and smoking.

The teenagers of the 1960′s and 1970′s are the exact reverse of Gen C, who have been the decision-makers who ruled this world for the last 25-years, under whose stewardship greed, control and stupidity has brought the planet close to ruin.  This is not to say that other generations contributed, but it is the stewards who must take responsibility, they had power to do something about it, and failed.

The difference between the outlooks of the teens of the 1960′s and 1970′s against the teens of Gen C is economic conditions.  The 1960′s was the start of economic boom in the UK: plentiful jobs, where you could lose your job on a friday and walk into one on a monday; easy access to credit such as hire purchase; inflation was only emerging; cost-of-living was low; welfare was easy; the government paid the education fees of students in higher education.  The teenage rebellion, culture and movements of the 1960′s and 1970′s was due to the easy availability of money, but it created stewards who failed to care for their planet.

Gen C in the UK are unable to access credit; jobs are rare or non-existent; welfare benefits are constantly cut and eliminated for the young; higher education courses paid for by student loans that fail to cover living expenses, the young start life in extreme debt; cost-of-living is high, the young struggling to pay their food and rent.  Despite all this hardship, an amazing generation has emerged.

I now realise that good things happen through strife such as wisdom, liberty, sustainability and creativity, and when times are good, it a time of unseen dangers such as hubris, selfishness and greed.  In times of great hardship such as in prisoner-of-war-camps and earthquakes human innovation and empathy emerge in abundance.  As Heraclitus says: “strife is justice.”

The sum is greater than its opposing parts

All things need opposites to exist.

Some argue Colchester grey squirrels should be destroyed as pests, yet without a squirrel burying a nut in my garden I would have no hazel tree growing there.

Some argue Colchester grey squirrels should be destroyed as pests, yet without a grey squirrel burying a nut in my garden I would have no hazel tree growing there.

My friend recently said that all rabbits in Britain should be destroyed as pests.  I disagreed on many levels.

112. “Joints are at once a unitary whole and not a unitary whole. To be in agreement is to differ, the concord-ant is the discord-ant. From many things comes oneness, and out of oneness come the many things.”  Heraclitus

What Heraclitus infers is that an object in nature has its opposite, from this opposition everything come into being.  As an example, fire from the sun and its opposite water in a rainstorm produces a rainbow.  If either sun or rain was missing, no rainbow.

In the USA the rabbit is a major food source to the Bald Eagle.  The rabbit is in opposition to the Bald Eagle, but needs the eagle to exist to control the rabbit population that would quickly consume its food sources leading to mass starvation.  If one of the opposites of rabbit and eagle vanished, both would probably vanish, whilst other plants and animals that needed rabbit and eagle would suffer too.

Scientists are observing that the rivals raven and wolf are following the paradox of oppositions working together in harmony for mutual benefit, they are both helping each other in the hunting down of food.  If the raven spots a sick elk, it will make the wolves aware of the prey; the wolves in killing and ripping apart the thick pelt of the elk provides the ravens a feeding opportunity.  Scientists observe that when wolves return to an area colonies of ravens will appear too.  The ravens will play and interact with the wolves.

106. “To God all things are beautiful, good, and right. Men, on the other hand, deem some things right and others wrong.”  Heraclitus.

I hope humanity will abandon the delusion of good and bad in favour of the opposites, for without the conflict of opposites nothing can exist.  The rabbit is just a rabbit, doing what rabbits do, neither inherently good or bad.  The solution to a rabbit problem is looking for its opposite, a bird of prey for instance.  Introducing an opposite causes hidden new possibilities, for instance a new plant species may emerge because the birds of prey reduced the rabbit population.

Spooked

Nature hides hidden surprises to scare you.

Nature offers many surprises, even a cat in nature.

Nature offers many surprises, even a cat in nature.

I frequently hear of people indulging in roller-coasters and other artificial means to scare themselves, an attempt to rise above a dull life they feel they live.  There is an invisible open doorway via nature for those who desire adventure and surprises, all free and guaranteed never to disappoint.

I am eating in nature in my garden.  I try to get away from my cat Pebbles who can match any dog in making you feel guilty eating whilst they make it clear you should share your food with them.  A huge bumble bee appears and starts circling around my head, it is about to land on my head, I panic and run.  Pebbles is stalking me, I startle her and the cat flees as well.

I calm Pebbles by offering her kitty treats.  Ten minutes later the wind rises.  Pebbles is acting strangely.  The cat is looking at something I am unable to see.  Pebbles chases something, then she flees.  The cat seems to see something invisible to me.  The cat is acrobatic, jumping up on the shed roof, and across a wide space to the house roof with a thud.  The cat spooks me.  I have to coax the cat down with food, who appears now trapped and unsure how to get back down.  It is a strange moment, though I enjoy the realisation that offered food an unpredictable animal becomes predictable.