Thursday, July 23, 2015

Being insignificant

When it comes to holiday types, I would say I'm absolutely terrified when it comes to wide open spaces like beaches, mountains and flying through space. At the same time, it is just as thrilling because of the possibilities those vacation types bring. It's also strangely liberating.

For a long time, humans have built cities, where an increasing proportion of people now live in. If we take for a moment to consider architecture and the purpose of a built city, it's extremely anthropocentric. That's a big cheem word for "based on human interests and needs". Things are tailored to our size, our bipedal way of getting around and our comfort. I feel this subconsciously fuels our sense of self-entitlement. That as humans, we become upset when nature throws us off and tears down our buildings, our habitat.

I've gone hiking in the south Germany's Black Forest, and despite my fear for open water, saw the dead coral reefs of Phuket. Both experiences made me extremely small and insignificant.

And that feeling was perfectly wonderful.
People get the feeling of satisfaction because they "conquered" a mountain by scaling it. They take deep dives to see the wonders of the ocean. Technology made all these possible and it's amazing why we've achieved. At the same time, we have a voyeuristic fascination with ship wrecks, being island-stranded where people have no one but themselves to fend against nature, the enemy. We want to maintain our supremacy and like a threatened monarch, we hang on desperately to power at all costs.

I'm not advocating the fact that we go straight into the wilderness and start living again from the cave. Yet, at the same time we should be reminded of our vast insignificance, that all work we do, is human work and we represent very little of the reality in life. Like the late George Carlin would say, "earth will shake us off like a bad case of fleas".

The earth really doesn't need saving, saying this will turn things for the worse. It blinds us to the true fact that we are desperately holding on to our supremacy of this epoch, and saving the earth is really saving ourselves. The frightful thing is that people with money and power have the resources to survive, while the poor and impotent will not. Climate change, is inevitably a problem of poverty in both ethics and economics.

I feel an implacable sense of peace precisely because I am powerless over what is before me. The forces that move mountains will crush my skull in a heartbeat, the waves can dissolve my corpse in a week. That sense of peace is perhaps what Buddha was saying - to consider how life ebbs and flows, and nothing is everything while everything can become nothing. We have to let go our control - our sense of ego.

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