What do you feel from the Earth? When you turn your attention not to an individual aspect of nature, but to the great matrix of the planet, what do you notice?
Tuning into the Earth is an exercise I did many times as a student and have since repeated many times with my own students (because we all want to know: what is Mother Earth saying?).
My noticings are often quite different from those around me.
Mother Earth is so sad, someone will say.
She’s grieving the loss of the rainforests, another will chime in.
And for sure someone will be weeping inconsolably, “feeling her pain.”
What if I told you that’s not at all what I get when I tune into this gorgeous planet?
When I ask what Mother Earth is saying, I don’t feel despair.
I get why so many feel that the Earth is in pain: amongst those who see the world in a holistic way, a way which includes not just humans but the birds and the seas, the fish and the forests, there is so much guilt over how we’re treating our home.
The last male Northern White Rhino recently died; despite efforts to halt the progress of the Keystone Pipeline, it’s not only progressing but leaking; and all over the globe we’re witnessing unusual and often extreme weather patterns presumably fueled by the changes human’s have made to the atmosphere.
Many look around and say The Earth’s in trouble.
I look around and say Humans are in trouble.
Our current path has the potential to make us, as a species, an evolutionary dead end. Not only are we about to go the way of the dodo, there’s a good chance we’ll take a number of other species with us into extinction.Our saving grace may be the the same smarts that got us into the current situation: human ingenuity exists on a scale that never fails to steal my breath. Click To Tweet
When I hear from friends in the solar industry that there are engineers quietly working on a way to harness CO2 for fuel, I don’t doubt it.
And Mamma Earth is interested too… Hmmmm, whatever will these crazy humans do? Can they save themselves?
But don’t mistake curiosity for personalized caring. Mother Earth loves you in the same way you love the cells of your own body. While you might revere every vibrant cell in your being, you don’t know each of the individual cells in your big toe (and you’re happy to slough off any number of them when you go for a pedicure!).Mother Earth is a joyful creatrix, happy to throw bits of biology against the proverbial wall to see what sticks. Click To Tweet
The building of a human from egg and sperm to embryo gives us a hint about how it goes down the cosmic creation laboratory:
“This is the basic principal of living organisms. Life is profligate; life is a spendthrift; life can persist only by living beyond its means. You make things in extravagant abundance, and then you shave back, throw away, kill off the excess. Through extensive cell death the brain is molded, transformed from a teeming pudding of primitive, over-populous neurons into an organized structure of convolutions and connections, recognizable lobes and nuclei; by the time the human brain has finished developing, in infancy, 90 percent of its original cell number has died, leaving the privileged few to sustain the hard work of dwelling on mortality. This is also how the limbs are built. At some point in embryogenesis, the fingers and toes must be relieved of their interdigital webbing, or we would emerge from our amniotic aquarium with flippers and fins. And this too is how the fixture is laid down.
The millions of eggs that we women begin with are cleanly destroyed through an innate cell program called apoptosis. The eggs do not simply die — they commit suicide. Their membranes ruffle up like petticoats whipped by the wind and they break into pieces, thence to be absorbed bit by bit into the hearts of neighboring cells. By graciously if melodramatically getting out of the way, the sacrificial eggs leave their sisters plenty of hatching room…”
Natalie Angier, Woman: An Intimate Geography
What if the sadness you’re feeling for Mother Earth is actually sadness for humanity, for this species that is both brilliant and callous, creating and destroying in the same breath, with no thought for the long game?
And what if, from a non-human-centric point of view, it’s all okay, it’s all part of the glorious dance of coming into and out of being?
What if that’s the answer to the question what is Mother Earth saying?
I’m not suggesting we should simply give up. I’m personally kinda of fond of this creation called humanity and would love to see us thrive even if we are cosmically inconsequential.
What I am saying is it’s time for us to own our pain, to point the arrow toward our own hearts, because only then can we understand that we are but a speck of dust in the eye of the Goddess: at the micro level we are everything while at the cosmic level we are nothing.
And only from this place of humility do we have a chance to change our current trajectory.
Either way, Mother Earth’s gonna be okay.
P.S. There’s another angle into all of this—here’s the chance for all you alchemists and quantum mechanics and people who want to live in reciprocity with the planet:
On a quantum level the experimenter affects the experiment, the observer changes the observed. What if by loving the Earth we become not just a nameless cell in her left toe but instead her beloved? What if we, through devotion, can come into relationship?
I don’t know about you, but I’m thinking it’s worth a try.