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Cities are good for business, but bad for our emotions.
"Corporations have done their best to supply us with as much rubbish we don’t need and also excel at motivating frenzied and pressured buying opportunities to no avail."
How do humans like to live? What do they really need to survive happily? Does nature provide the answers?
We all have the inborn idea (religious or not) that some form of returning to nature feels right. That’s because cities are not fulfilling our water-based and visual needs as well as our natural emotional attachments. Trees and plants hold vast amounts of water and we like to be surrounded by the energy and shapes these provide.
By weight, the average human adult consists of approximately 65% water and our eyes are our primary sense for survival: passing that, our visceral, earthborn senses are connected to the wild.
There are reasons why over nine out of ten of us like a good landscape photo or painting – be it traditional or modern. The ones we most like either have trees or water in them, or both. And city landscapes most favoured always have lots of lights beaming; representing the warm sun and warm blood within.
Our minds need three elements foremost: water, the correct patterns or shapes, and sunlight (especially in relation to both former elements).
Paintings are often a simulation of nature: that has been the common theme for artists since pious paintings were ordered. And because paintings are attempts at recreating reality we observe the truth of what kind of reality people seek. We see trees, high lights, beautiful greens and sea blues of water and calm lakes and their ripple shapes, leaves aplenty, random criss-cross branches meeting like lovers, luminous green moss, dramatic clouds signalling a God, vast space, signs of a path meandering its way from humanity to nature, a womb cave suggestion or a house on a hill, some mountainous rock or hills, a close-up of eyes (the soul), a collaboration of friendliness, sunset / sunrise orange / red ember glows, red sky at night delight, funny angles of interest of things, snow covered soft white, happy heavy snow trees, black and white simplified hues, green grasses, potential shapes in clouds, bridges over water leading to somewhere we either can see or imagine, symbols of time (like holes in huge rocks, or layers in mud), nice pinks and friendly yellow reflections on cloud water, wave energy and waterfalls, beams of light suggesting a holy presence, clear blue sky, predictable shadows and silhouettes (especially from leaves and tree trucks and branches), grades of beautiful sky colours, distant convergent lines from land or sea to sky, grandiose waterfalls and jagged rock (impressive danger).
Also the bouncing back-and-forth cheerful sounds of many birds in the trees is an essential part of the relaxation and healing process that woods provide. Basically anything that makes us feel at home in our minds, or symbols of extra power to feed from. People love stars in the night sky too, but if it doesn’t have some mention of ground (like tree tops pointing up) then the enormity of the unknown space can feel overwhelming. We all like to know where we stand.
Our natural choice of paintings show us what we need to survive happily (especially when hard earned money is parted for the aesthetic privilege). Artworks mainly represent our emotions and also conceptual desires a little bit. We also like domesticated pet paintings, but nowhere near as much as a healthy and honest landscape!
Humans are holding ourselves in aesthetic and emotional limbo by living in urban landscapes: there is nowhere near enough water or trees around to satisfy our fundamental needs. It’s not so much the sheer amount of right-angled buildings surrounding us (right-angles are rare in nature, mainly found in crystals); it’s more that the proportions of aesthetic and energy based well-being are totally mismatched. Monetary practicalities dominate society in every last decision made, and that is bad news for happiness and likewise the environment we imprison ourselves in. When we live in nature (instead of sweeping it away) our greedy hoarding instincts are satisfied by jungles or forests suggesting a world of possibilities surrounding us, albeit, often the verge of starvation in actuality.
In brief cynical terms, we have been conned into believing that vast catalogs supplying goods and millions of internet selling companies are providing us with a huge choice for our brains to decide and apple pick from. This is falsely engineered choice as too many other factors, particularly price restrictions, influence our actual level of free will upon the objects and feelings we are actually looking for, crave and desire. Nature is unusual in its ambivalence of day to day searching survival routines, frightening hunts and inexhaustible variety and daily new growth – a continuous ebbing and flowing of normally watery landscape composed of wondrous textures and billions of organisms. It is immense, awe inspiring, powerful and never-ending. Supermarkets and shopping centers cannot compete or simulate what our approximately 86 billion neurons and 0.15 quadrillion synapses our brain talks: so a disgruntled and dissatisfied feeling hovers over every purchase we make, whether we know it, like it, or care about it, or not? Corporations have done their best to supply us with as much rubbish we don’t need and also excel at motivating frenzied and pressured buying opportunities to no avail.
The truth and reality is that living to buy things makes you unhappy in the long run.
It is a game of cat and mouse you play with your mind’s desire, which usually ends in tears. No sooner has the elation of an excited purchase turned into a tiny-slump of emotions, followed buy the need for another scouting and buying fix. It is addictive, but more than that, world selling organisations/operations are tapping the essential sap of our souls by preying on our survival instincts. Financial markets exploit us. Nature is bountiful and pacifies our desperate grasp around greed. Why strangle the quality of generosity as giving makes us feel better?
By not buying things, remembering the reasons for your decision to not make the purchase you psyched yourself into nearly buying and working out alternative pathways or creative solutions to your dilemma – makes you happy. Breaking ourselves of the need to constantly buy stuff is one of the first major steps in attaining enlightenment. Unavoidable living purchases are excused of course.
In the distant past, a huge amount of sophisticated civilisations collapsed all for the same reason: a lack of drinking water. We’re not fish (most likely began as the Coelacanth), but we do seem to need a lot of water to supply our practical and emotional needs. Being able to actually bottle water and sell it for real money, when tap water is perfectly fine, reflects our adoration with fresh water. Water is spiritual. Authorities have drained a great deal of water away to build on flood plains and were stupid to do so for a large number of reasons. Once again, corporate greed taking away the needs of the many to serve the petty needs of a few. A tarmac, goods-based civilization is not sustainable and will face hard times to survive in the future.
People do like the familiar and predictability. It makes us feel safe, especially when surrounded by vast hoards of unknown people and unknown building space. Yet too much urban landscape routine makes us more fearful of any unknown stimuli and change, and this is a pattern which unhealthily augments into a state where the masses can be manipulated and controlled.
Policed cities provide a chance for most of us to lower our defences (in wild comparison to constant danger alerts in the wild) which allows us to become mundane and pliable: cattle like. We are herded from one place to another on the clock. Yet in nature, we’re used to responding and adapting quickly to danger and, being forward-eyed predators ourselves, can cope with the challenge of fear (which is almost always real fear, not the fear itself of the unknown fear). There is actually nowhere near enough variety in the mundane, banal city landscapes we operate in, so socializing becomes even more of a top priority to counter the boredom of a monetary system.
What is even more deeply important than our primary essential need to socialize, is feeling comfortable with the view you wake up to and live in all day. The faces around us must fit too, but problems arise if they are all placed like statue figures on a board game, instead of born into everyday growth. It’s very important to be friendly, and more important for nature to befriend you.
Most importantly, what a natural (non-computer simulation) setting does is calm our need for greed. We have (or should have worldwide by now) conquered the constant hunger problem experienced in a wild, non-catered for environment. Mans’ long running opposition with nature displays like a naughty school child to our parent Earth. Wanting and taking more than needed, we shall only take note when it’s too late to question or change the inevitable outcome. The onus should be on us to do well (if we’re so intelligent), not for nature to put up with our bad behaviour. Respect is earned, not demanded.
Nature has had us on the run for most of our existence, and slowly – step-by-step – we have been taming each element by destroying, not harmonizing with. Nature will always be far more powerful than us, so stealing from it without giving back can only lead to a sorry conclusion. People have badly controlled their gathering tendencies, creating envy, misplaced confidence and an overall lack of harmonious balance with not just the rest of nature, but in-fighting between themselves. By recognising the diversity in humanity (particularly the differences between men and women) we gain respect and the mental fortitude which promotes planetary well-being: caring for, not killing other creatures and ourselves. Both women and men have different needs and therefore must be approached differently, yet fairly – creating a final equal balance with alternate objects weighing the scales on both sides. This is where the crux and dichotomy of humanities’ woes uncomfortably rests. The lack of understanding and resultant conflicts of these male and female drives is responsible for growing greed: humanities nemesis for peace.
By-and-large most animal species all want the same things: to live a healthy, pain free, well-fed communal existence with fresh air and water aplenty under the umbrella of trees. Nature always moves towards balance. This is what we secretly want anyway. We have evolved into natural guardians of the planet and are doing a terrible job. Either we start protecting less capable species or end up ashes of our own making?
All evidence supports a great rethink and rebuild of our living landscape for the good of man & woman. Cities are good for business but bad for emotions. We are not where we want to be, dolphins are. How crazy is a race which imprisons itself? Love all thy neighbours and the neighbourhood shall be your playground.
Authored by Andrew Voller
For the full section on Nature read my upcoming book Earthnut Walking, or take a walk on the wild side with the Enlightenment series of novels. Click here.
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"Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better."
~ Albert Einstein
"Just living is not enough... one must have sunshine, freedom, and a little flower."
~ Hans Christian Andersen
"Adopt the pace of nature: her secret is patience."
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
"Study nature, love nature, stay close to nature. It will never fail you."
~ Frank Lloyd Wright
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