The essay that sparked the name
We have been denatured. “[We have been] deprived of [our] natural character, properties, etc.” We need to be renatured. “Restored to [our] former, natural state.”
Most humans deem our intelligence, our mind, to be above everything. As if that’s all we, as a species, need to keep going. Our minds provide us with the means for continued practical survival: mass food production, water availability, energy for temperature control. We are so efficient at taking care of our base needs that we have extra time, time that human minds fill with other ideas. We create entertainment and culture that has evolved over the millenia to something that our predecessors would not recognize. We investigate areas that confuse us, science to understand our universe, philosophy and religion to understand our place in it.
Some of us remember our body, our organism. We eat “right,” we exercise, we see the doctor- even when we feel healthy. The next level of this is to appreciate the organism, even to understand and nurture the super-organism that plays host to that all-important brain.
But I contest that there is at least one other character or property to the human being that all but a very few individuals have all but forgotten. There are many, many names for that quantity which we ignore. Soul. Intuition. Self. That “Where we fit in the universe.” There is a hole that many people feel, where this item is missing. We have filled it with religion, spirituality, culture, philosophy. Some few people, like the Budha, and those who try, like him, to find an awakening or enlightenment, to look for the missing piece.
We are looking for our roots, who we are. Not the grey ones, not the woody ones; though these work as analogies. Our evolutionary roots. We are still animals, though some people forget that, and that means so much more than chemistry, hormones, physical norishment. It means integrating with our environment. Integrating and interacting on an intimate level. Knowing nature, both ours and our natural environment. We can do that. Understanding nature, and, in turn, being understood.
My dogs know what is going on, so do the cows I milk. They know what I am feeling, probably better than I do. And they are constantly trying to communicate with me. When my youngest dog whines and looks at me, I know he is desperately trying to tell me something. Is he hungry, thirsty, in need of a trip outside, bored? Is it just that there are squirrels outside, and it’s just too much stimulation for him to handle quietly? I FEEL that I should know what he is trying to communicate. Not just because I care about him, but because I know that other cross-species communication is happening all the time. My horses know that the coyote trotting through their pasture is not interested in them, but in taking the shortest route. The sparrow and chipmunk scratching in the leaf litter are aware of where the other is going, and they rarely meet. It goes beyond what we intellectually know of animal behavior. Yes, predators practice mutual avoidance, marking trees to let others know who, what, where, when there was someone there. And the others know, from that marking, the general direction they went, and to head off somewhere else. Or the duck sees the dogs and I coming and explodes out of the pond, alerting the other animals to my presence.
But it goes far beyond this. The trees know what is going on. Not in the way we comprehend it, but they do. The animals play with each other, form interspecies alliances or friendships. They need all five senses when interacting with each other, plus another, that nearly unfathomable (to us) sixth sense.
I don’t know about you, but I feel that I should be able to be part of that great understanding. I should be able to communicate with the trees, the moss, the chipmunks, my dogs. There was a time when humans weren’t so alienated from their environment. It was a long, long time ago. But there is still a pathway to that “natural character.” I believe that this property is the hole that many of us feel obliged to fill with spirituality of some sort. Is this another form of spirituality? That is for you to decide. How do we get there? That is a whole ‘nother quest-ion. But as I figure out the answer, I promise to let you know.
We search for our place in the universe, but what we can recognize is that our place is here, within our own ecosystem, not above or separate from it. Recreating that long unused comprehension would seat us directly.
Another definition of Denature is to make material for an atomic weapon useless for that purpose. If we are innert bombs that become renatured, the effects would be awe-some. An incredible flash of light and fire and heat, along with a shock wave; destroying perceptions and assumptions. This would be followed by instant and long lasting radiation, morphing our understanding of our world and our place in it.