An Excerpt from Jim Conrad's
NATURALIST NEWSLETTER
of February 9, 2003
Written in the woods near Natchez, Mississippi, USA

ON BEING TURNED ON

Karen's enthusiasm for fossils, rocks and crystals is wonderful to behold. It's fun to reflect on how we humans are sorted out so that each of us by nature is turned on by something that most others ignore. You can see why this feature of the human condition has evolved. If a primitive tribal community were to be composed of nothing but soldier types, or nothing but music lovers, you can imagine the problems. Every healthy community needs a diversity of personalities exactly as every healthy ecosystem needs a diversity of life forms.

For my part, I can't recall when I was not turned on by the mysteries of nature, particularly of trees. If I had been born into a Paleolithic tribe, surely I would have been a medicine man or a shaman wandering about with my bag of herbs and dried leaves, working all kinds of voodoo and magical cures, and I would have worshiped alone in the forest.

In a primitive society maybe rock-loving Karen would have been honored as one who during droughts could be counted on to locate hidden springs, or maybe with her sensitivity to the majesty of time, she would have been needed to express the long view when communal strategies for survival were being debated.

If all our Newsletter subscribers were to come together, I'm sure that most would admit that from their earliest days they have been inexplicably drawn to one particular thing or another. Maybe the pleasures of gardening, the dignity of teaching young people, the beauty of caring for horses, the nurturing of children, the challenge of the hunt... on and on until we'd recognize among us individuals who felt passionately about wanting to fill each of society's necessary roles, and I bet these passions would all be present in the proper proportion.

Someday we shall knock down for good the false gods of commerce, consumerism and self gratification, and we shall renounce our allegiance to the regimentation, uniformity and mediocrity those gods require of us. Then we'll refocus ourselves, and one feature of our lives then will be that whenever a new child is about to be born in our local community, we'll wait with great expectation to discover what passion that child brings into our community. And once we see what this child's natural inclinations are, then all our community's energies will be mobilized to cultivate and encourage this new citizen to realize his or her full potential.