Over the past few weeks, my understanding of ecology and my environment has begun to incorporate the southwest desert and the land of Arizona. I’m taking an ecology class here at Prescott College with a John Muir impersonist and I’m beginning to think more about geology and rock formations instead of the greenery of New England. I’m learning that rock formations are merely ancient sedimentations of material and that they’re all actually very different. Most importantly, I’m learning that the basic understanding of physical geography, geology and plant species that I learned in high school were not enough.
There is so much wonder, so much natural beauty within the daily landscape of our human lives that we choose not to see. We forget to consider the ages of the trees we walk by or the placement of the bushes we pass. Our anthropocentric modernity has shaped our entire culture into a boring, and bored, unconscious group of people. Aldo Leopold writes, “The drama of the sky dance is enacted nightly on hundreds of farms, the owners of which sigh for entertainment, but harbor the illusion that it is to be sought in theaters. They live on the land, but not by the land.” I feel that most of my generations’ problems have come from a dullness they don’t understand and can’t explain. Humans have been given so many different types of technology that we’ve stopped concentrating on our most basic and natural forms of entertainment. For most people, wandering outside and exploring nature is rarely considered to be an equally enjoyable alternative to a movie theater.
There are things around us all the time that we’re constantly taking for granted, or at least not observing very well. So many creatures and beings and plants and matter make up our world and interconnected universe. Every minute organism plays its role in the procedure of our lives, yet we are probably deeming that creature as less important or unnecessary. It is so important to remember that every tiny creature or seemingly insignificant being or part of nature holds a significant place within this world. It’s so important to put away our smart-phones when we get to the top of places like Thumb Butte and just spend time sitting and looking at what is in front of us. It’s important to look at what we are hiking past and spend time counting the rings of tree stumps and identifying riverbeds. Nancy E. Langston writes, “…The world is dramatically affected by humans.” To ignore this is irresponsible; we must understood the role we play within this world without thinking anthropocentrically. We must continue exploring unobtrusively and we must continue asking questions in order to better understand and change the global crisis we’ve created. Humans must discontinue attempts to conquer the land and instead begin understanding ourselves as an active part within its system.