“Many men go through life as though they wore horse blinders or were sleepwalking. Their eyes are open, yet they see nothing of their many wild neighbors. Their ears, attuned to motorcars and traffic, seldom detect the music of nature – the singing of birds, frogs, or crickets, or the wind in the leaves. There men, biologically illiterate, often fancy themselves well informed, perhaps sophisticated. They know business trends, or politics, yet haven’t the faintest ideas of ‘what makes the world go round.'” — Roger Tory Peterson
I often speak of aspens these days as being “medicine for our time” pricisely because they can teach us of “what makes the world go round.” They can teach us of ‘change hardiness and of learning agility,’ of ‘the wholeness of a self,’ of ‘the ethics of wholeness in a fragmented world’ and more.
The following ‘bits of wisdom‘, of biological literacy, were generated for a recent presentation at the Four Corners WholeExpo in Durango, CO.
Aspens: Ancient Wisdom for Thriving in Challenging Times
Lessons from the Aspen Grove
1. We are more ‘like’ the aspens, more like a forest in the nature of our self, than we are ‘unlike.’ The patterns in nature are the same as in our own bodies.
3. Relationships are the Language of Life! (Mutual Coherency, symbiosis, mutualism, predator, prey…)
5. Living systems network and self-organize around nurturance and/or threats, around “blissed or pissed.”
7. The failures of adaptation and transformation are real. (Eco-shock and eco-trauma lead to a diminished quality of life if not to extinction itself.)
8. Eco-recovery and eco-restoration are also real. Life wants to happen. The River of Life supports our orientation toward wellness, hardiness and wholeness (bio-tropism).
9. The resilience and health of a system paradoxically resides in the integrity of its component member systems and in their wholeness. (Note that increases in system efficiency are often losses in system resilience however. [↑ efficiency = ↓ resilience])
10. The wholeness of a Self resides in its connectivity, its connect-ability. (To support the healing of an ecosystem [self], reconnect it to its component parts, its larger self: i.e. restoring healthy fire regimes to our forests, wolves to Yellowstone….)
11. Investment in one’s (wild) resilience is an investment in eco-shock/eco-trauma proofing one’s Self; it is an investment in thrive-ability.
12. The resources of collective intelligence and collective wisdom, analogous to the rooting and mycelium resources of the Aspen lying underground, are likewise available to us personally and collectively, waiting but our cultivation and nurturance.
13. Letting Go! The aspens’ dropping of leaves and branches that no longer serve… the return to soil… the surrendering to Life and to Death….
14. The wild ethics of wholeness in a fragmented world.