An Excerpt from Jim Conrad's
NATURALIST NEWSLETTER
of November 8, 2009
Issued from Hacienda Chichen Resort adjoining Chichén Itzá Ruin in
Yucatán, MÉXICO

THOUGHTS ABOUT
OBSESSIVE THOUGHTS

I keep up with the news pretty closely. History and current events are a lot like ecology in that each system comprises innumerable interconnecting, evolving parts. Something in me likes watching it all, identifying trends and cycles, and imagining the future based on patterns I think I detect in each system.

Here the only easy way to get news at the Hacienda is via the Internet. On Friday I set my browser to CNN Online, saw headlines about a massacre in Texas, and surprised myself by not feeling the urge to scroll on down the page.

In fact, right now, sitting in my hut gazing out the window through a silvery curtain of rainwater cascading off the thatch roof during the daily afternoon storm, I'm thinking that sometimes up North a lot of us become a bit obsessive about each day's big events.

Often I've pointed out that much human behavior is rooted in our early primate evolution in Africa. Consequently much of our behavior that may have been appropriate for our early ancestral species can be maladaptive or even lethal today. In fact, maybe the way some of us get hooked on CNN's constant updates, or even The Weather Channel... maybe that's a manifestation of our early evolution.

You can see why a tribe of folks or almost-folks might find it beneficial to pay close attention to any news from beyond the campfire's circle of light. If a lion is roaming the area, it's good to know. If the neighboring tribe is needing victims to sacrifice to their gods, that can be important information. I suspect that we're hardwired to listen, to think hard about what we hear, to gossip, and maybe even obsess a bit about what's going on.

However, with my current perspective I'm remembering that the human brain is just an onboard computer, and like any computer our brain can get bogged down with memory-resident programs we may or may not want or be aware of. At a certain point any computer's memory can get so clogged up and confused that it begins behaving abnormally, or stops behaving altogether. At that point you have to hot-boot -- close the system down, flush out all the memory-resident stuff, and start over, this time loading into memory just the basics.

Maybe that's what I'm doing right now, just watching rain pour off the roof, and I feel like a healing process is taking place.

Maybe if more of us did more re-booting from time to time, more standing in the door just watching it rain, the whole world would start mellowing a bit, and the day's big events wouldn't be so scary. <Facebook Icon