My father used to tell me, “Matt, there are two roads you can take: the easy one or the hard one. And son, you always choose the hard one.”
What he told me when I was a child, still somehow seems to fit as an adult. Although much of the content has changed—thank god—I still seem to forego comfort to seek out challenge. Even in times where I wish I had it easy, my gravitas lies in taming difficulty. For me, the feeling of accomplishment outweighs the risk. And even in failure, the lessons learned warrant a deserved reward. It was not until this re-examination of my philosophies, had I begun to grasp a greater understanding of mankind.
I recently finished BBC’s “Human Planet” series, which explores the variety of lifestyles man. Most of the documentary takes place in ‘the wild’, where existence is less of a race than it is a cooperation. However, what BBC would have you think is that life in these wild places is a dangerous battle where each day man fights to steal food from the earth, as if it was bent on extinguishing humanity. It is cruel, cold, and unpredictable. And only the poor, weak, and exiled live beyond the city walls.
They look thrilled.
Much of the commentary contradicted the actual footage. Example: although the villager, grinning ear to ear, was enjoying his day’s catch of fresh fish, he was, according to BBC, deeply troubled by the unsurmountable stress looming overhead about finding tomorrow’s dinner. At first, these inconsistencies didn’t catch my attention, but as I watched all 7 installations, I started to see the over-usage of certain negative elements such as fear and threat. I started to get annoyed and eventually decided to cut short the last episode. All this ‘triumphing over nature‘ and ‘struggling against earth’ was starting to give me a headache.
What I honestly believe is that these people, in tune with locales much closer to raw wilderness, understand and embody cycles closer to nature. In this proximity to true models of sustainability, these civilizations have learned to cooperate rather than fight.
I think this requires at least a smidgeon of cooperation.
With that said, I started to wonder why was BBC so bent on making life in the ‘wild’ seem so difficult. I started to hypothesize a theory of reversal: BBC, and all of us living an urban lifestyle, tend to brutalize life in the wilderness because of the current degree of extensive difficulty within our lives. If you think about it, we spend on average 40 hours a weeks slaving away just to make ends meet. A lot of this time is directly subtracted from family, sociality and simple relaxation. Debt is the number one stressor of our modern world. It has become so paramount that people are working just to stay out of it. In fact, the US has been dubbed the “credit-card nation”, with over 80% of the population in debt and 20% of that figure without hope of ever breaking even. Add this to traffic commutes, pollution, disease, contaminated food outbreaks, war, politics, religion, and an array of other stressors and you can see why it’s tempting to head for the hills.
“F@&% it, I’m outta here!”
With all this stress, one would ask why? If in the name of progress we have created such things as art, science, technology, and ‘civilization’, but have destroyed our happiness, what is the point? And my answer to why BBC—and the rest of us—continue to believe that living with nature is impossible is because we are in a cultural denial. Our civilized culture, separate from the culture of the earth, has brought us no closer to true fulfillment than logic does to love. We continue to put hope into our sciences and technologies and believe that they will free us from our suffering; that one day man will triumph over nature, conquering the forces of earth.
Meanwhile, billions suffer at the hands of a few, while we continue to use outdated technology and repress natural solutions such as free energy (I highly suggest you read up on this if you haven’t already). We deny the powers of natural healing in support of our ineffective man-made medicines. We live in an earth that is willing to give us the answers to all of our problems, but we are not listening. We continue to swim upstream, when floating down would bring us to where we want to be.
Be kind, little one.
It is here, that I made the connection to what my father pointed out to me so many years ago. The hard way, my path of choice, is a counterintuitive path of difficulty and stubbornness. However, when I completed my journey, I was always satisfied. I knew that the path I chose was my own personal and creative choice. And I discovered what the worst had to offer, knowing that I could surpass its challenges. I had survived the unknown and lived to tell the tale. By recognizing personal motives, I am starting to reconcile my aversions to man’s nature.
We are a young species—just like I am a young man—exploring the extent of our creativity. We have indeed gone one way, and will surely go the other. In the end we will find balance and as we grow, we’ll learn to live in harmony. For now, we are like babies left to feed on our own eating dirt, rocks, and sticks. Soon we will learn the flavor of greater things, developing our palate and changing our diets. There is plenty of time to grow.