Friday, 11 September 2009

The Consequences of a Life Disconnected

I noticed today that the Jacarandas are flowering again. Here in South Africa, the purple portent was a signal to students to start studying for end of year exams. If you waited until they layed their purple carpet below the tree you were already in big trouble. How many of these natural signs do we pay attention to these days?
In the past, our ability to survive depended on our intimate knowledge, and connection with nature. We'd be watching for the migration of birds, or the lengthening of shadows to guide our decision making in everything from when to plant vegetables, to when to propose marriage.

In our modern day lifestyle, we live our lives very disconnected from nature. Seasons come and go, and we hardly notice the changes, cocooned in our temperature regulated environments. Food no longer comes from last seasons planned planting, but is neatly packaged at the local supermarket for our last-minute convenience.
Both are perfect examples of our great sophistication, our triumph over the capriciousness of life, and our ability to design our landscape to suit us. But what happened to working with nature? Good design has to be more than imposing our will on our environment, surely its got to include a harmonious relationship with the landscape.

I'm far from being ready to return to an agrarian existence, and finding ways to keep chickens in my 3rd floor apartment - as much as my cat would argue for the perfect logic of that decision. Nor do I plan on basing my decisions on the changing seasons, when science can give such exact information. But I just wonder if the repercussions of this basic disconnection are more insidious and far-reaching than we imagine.
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