Category Archives: Nature

Study of the natural world

My office in nature

Mixing business with pleasure.

My office plants.

My office plants.

I am managing director of a corporate, my office at the center of this pillar of capitalism is a table in the garden.  The stereotypical office most people think of happens not to my thing, in front of me is Kevin, a spider, sitting patiently for dinner in the middle of a beautiful web.  The corporate director usually has the benefit of a secretary to keep blood sucking parasites at bay, I have Kevin, this spider is great against mosquitoes.

Instead of the sounds of fax machines, photocopiers and cellphones, I have Pebbles meowing for a treat.  Where there should be a drink vending machine is a bottle of water I share with this cat in her water bowl.

Every office has its romance, two pigeons in my office are doing it again in noisy fashion on top of the roof.  I do not think there has been anywhere these pigeons have not indulged in x-rated liaisons in the garden, it is most distracting as I file accounts ready for the tax people.

In any office at the center of corporate capitalism you get visitors all day long.  Amber the fox walks in, sniffs and then disappears into the bushes looking for a mouse.

Subconscious butterfly

My second important teacher is my subconscious.

The subconscious is like a playful beautiful butterfly half hidden in the shadows.

The subconscious is like a playful beautiful butterfly half hidden in the shadows.

The cryptic philosopher Heraclitus offers my mind a testing puzzle like Socrates says a deep-sea diver looking for pearls in dark waters.  This quest to unravel the mysteries Heraclitus coded in his metaphorical observations from nature is my current passion both in waking life and in dream.

My first teacher is nature, because it was from nature that Heraclitus built his philosophy, my second teacher is my subconscious.  We are only aware of a small fraction of the mental activity going on in our brain, most which happens in the darkness of the mysterious and dreaming darkness of the subconscious.

Last night my second teacher helped me solve a range of puzzles relating to Heraclitus via a series of dreams. I quickly recorded and translated the dreams, finding like the deep-sea diver my pearls.

For my readers benefit I record some observations about this second teacher, our subconscious.  Your brain records your dreams in short-term memory, they vanish from memory rapidly, you have moments to record them on waking before you forget them.  Dreams deal with subjects of the last 48 hours of waking life.  Dream code is relative and unique to the individual, you won’t find translations of your dreams in a book, such tools are useless.  Remembering and translating the code of your dreams comes with practice and experience.  The subconscious like nature is playful, it will take a theme, question, or problem then play with it from many angles, thus you will get a series of dreams on the same pattern in the night.  A strong clearly defined problem results in a clearer targeted response from the subconscious in dream.  The human brain is a pattern processing machine, it processes, plays, builds and communicates in patterns.  Your dreams often works with the same types of metaphorical code as you use in waking life, know this code, you will know what your subconscious is saying.

Most people sleep a third of their lives away, so it is worthwhile using such time as an opportunity to learn about and work with your subconscious in problem solving.

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.”