Everybody gets so much information all day long that they lose their common sense. They listen so much that they forget to be natural. – Gertrude Stein
The modern world overflows with titanic amounts of information newly minted every hour of each day. We now live in a global society interconnected by choices – some made for us, and some of our own choosing. But how much of our inner nature do we sacrifice in order to fit into this digital overlay of the natural world? Common sense tells us the tangible world -that which we can lay our hands on and sense with all our senses – that world is real. But the electronic world is, by design, can be more engaging. Hundreds of unseen algorithms are guiding our choice of passages through the cyber-labyrinth.
What triggers our movements from one link to the next, from one post to the next? Our attention is being massaged because it can be “monetized”. But nature’s incentive for animals to move from one place to another is often guided by the most basic instinct – survival. Many animals band together in groups to insure their continuation. We humans are social animals and so we gather together in groups large and small centered around some inherent need that can’t always be explained or understood. We connect to each other and learn, are entertained, comforted…. It is our nature to seek out one another, and for a time our individuality is contained within the groups to which we belong.
Our lives are enriched by contacts we make and ideas we share. I lived for a dozen years in China, and I feel that my life was greatly enhanced by my experiences teaching and living with my wife in such a different culture from where I grew up. I admit I am a poor language student, but being a writer I did pick up some insights into the culture through the concepts contained within certain Chinese words. Ziren is a Chinese word which means “nature” but also something akin to “self-contained truth”. It is as if being natural is overwhelmed by all the information and external influences. This is why I wander through nature so that I can place myself in that unrefined space in order to feel natural again.
I admit to trying to project myself into the flock, or attempt to fathom the actions of the inhabitants. Breaking away from the collective human minds available via our communications system gives me the perspective necessary for creating something as fresh and natural as I can make it.