Whirligig Beetles at Sunset © Lynne Buchanan
All Rights Reserved, Image watermarked by Digimarc
This photograph was taken on the Santa Fe at sunset following a wonderful Thanksgiving picnic along the river. We had gotten out of the canoe for a few minutes and suddenly a swam of whirligig beetles appeared making the most incredible patterns in the water. The sun was setting and the water began to glow. We were all mesmerized. Although the image appears abstract, it is actually one of the most concrete moments I have ever experienced. Previous paradigms of what rivers should look like were suddenly obsolete. None of us ever imagined a scene like this was possible, and yet it was happening before our eyes. All we could do was watch in amazement. This is one of the great values of nature. The longer we are alive, the more we take things for granted. We tend to only half look at things, registering something as being familiar and then quickly moving our awareness to the next thing that catches our attention. We get jaded and skim the surface of life. We lose touch with the wellspring of creativity that exists inside of us when we really connect with the nature of being.
Looking at things through eyes that aren't clouded with preconceived patterns of perception applies to scientific inquiry and social activism, as well as spiritual growth. Buckminster Fuller said, "You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete." In order to build a totally new model, we have to see the world in a fresh way that is not limited by the problems we face as we previously defined them. We need to form new paradigms by leaving old issues and baggage behind. The first thing to go might be the emotionally charged labels we put on things or situations. If we perceive something as being "bad," we want to fight or run from it as quickly as possible--both of which are reactive instead of pro-active behaviors. Instead we might be better served by sinking into a situation without judging it. If we just allow ourselves to be and experience what is going on with a more open focus, then we see the situation for what it is in the moment, with all the insights we have gained as we've progressed along the path of our own awakening. New ways of responding might appear to us and suddenly the problem becomes an opportunity for more growth. Solutions will be formulated based on entirely new ways of framing the world and real change can happen.
Earlier this week, I heard my father, Douglas Berggren, discuss the Age of Enlightenment and the darkening of the world at the Pieriean Spring Academy in Sarasota. The Age of Enlightenment and science allowed man to dominate the world and use resources for his own ends, which has led to the increasing destruction of our planet at a faster and faster rate. Many argue we have already reached the tipping point. Do we just decide it is too late and keep going on the path we are on, because nothing we do can stop the problems from getting worse? Or, do we become so saddened by the imminent death of our planet that we try and prevent any development, which is not truly feasible given the population explosion we are facing? Do we blame science for making industrialization possible and mistrust any suggestions coming from this arena, or do we help scientists and politicians create new frameworks of perception so that we can come up with partial solutions that we haven't even considered yet? I believe our only hope is in working together to make our existing models obsolete. Yes, we need to move forward in accommodating the ever increasing population on this earth, but we need to do so with open eyes--aware of the impact of our actions on the natural world and aware of what we are losing every time we destroy another acre of the rain forest or allow more chemicals to drain into our rivers that we are diverting water from at an alarming rate. The only hope is to think outside of the box, because all our current paradigms are clearly no longer working...