I thought of the wilderness we had left behind us, open to sea and sky, joyous in its plenitude and simplicity, perfect yet vulnerable, unaware of what is coming, defended by nothing, guarded by no one. – Edward Abbey
Check out my wife and I clamming on Youtube
Children are taught human beings have five senses – sight, smell, hearing, taste and touch. This is common textbook knowledge. But all people know intuitively that humans have a much larger sensory palette beyond basic five senses. Our brains interpret our environment through all manner of sensitivity receptors. Expanded lists of human senses reach as high as 20 or more. The kinesthetic sense, for instance, provides information on movement and position of body parts. Close your eyes and touch the tip of your finger to your nose – this is possible because of the kinesthetic sense.
The sense of empathy is one of humanity’s greatest abilities. Scientific research has shown that the feeling of empathy is rooted in the basic sense of touch. This all too familiar sense was only given a name about one hundred years ago – from the Greek em (in) pathos (feeling). It seems our minds can mirror the experiences of another within our own mind. This extends beyond human interaction into the natural world. It may be why we reach out to touch something unfamiliar, like these lugworms. This touch is also done mentally and results in acts of gentle kindness like apologizing for stepping on an insect. And why we get so much gratification from our loving pets.
Coming across a strange creature we stare in wonder trying to figure out what sort of life it has. Our thoughts project down into the critter and attempt to understand its world. For its world is part of our world. This ability to imagine alternative worlds gives humanity the ability to decide how to defend and guard the natural inhabitants who share our planet. The natural acts of predators and prey keep a habitat in balance. The provision of nutrients by the ocean and sky sustain life, but we humans sever those essential life-giving paths.
Open to sea and sky, creatures of nature have inherent survival knowledge. They react to stimulus in ways that have allowed their species to survive for millions of years. A baby bird senses an eagle fly over and freezes; a clam senses vibrations and burrows; a sand dollar senses nutritious particles and its tiny appendages convey them to its mouth. There is no questioning, no deep analysis necessary. We humans with our incredible intellect, must come to our senses. The wilderness is not left behind – it is still embedded within our earthly inheritance.