An Excerpt from Jim Conrad's
NATURALIST NEWSLETTER
of December 13, 2009
Issued from Hacienda Chichen Resort adjoining
Chichén Itzá Ruins, Yucatán, MÉXICO

A PARROT LOOKING AT ME

The other morning I looked up into a big Peech tree and saw a White-fronted Parrot looking back down at me. His body language showed frank curiosity and his rambling, inflected chatter couldn't have more clearly stated, "What's going on with you, why aren't you walking along like the others, I'm not sure I like this... "

If I were a scientist needing to maintain my image with peers the above paragraph would utterly discredit me for its anthropomorphism. However, I identify more with my Kentucky farmboy roots than the society of scientists, so I don't mind saying that a pig can express his hunger in a squeal, and an old red hen clucks a certain way when she's contented, and that these sounds are communications expressing states of mind and feelings those animals have.

It's a shame that most religions and other traditions instruct their adherents to regard humans as set apart from Nature, as having "souls" while other living things do not. For, when you accept that the living world around you is just as meaningfully alert and self-aware as you are, that animals all around you are experiencing feelings, states of mind that are vivid and lucid, and feeling sensations and insights with their differently wired nervous systems that you can't even imagine, the world develops a more engaging and satisfying texture, profundity and mystery for you.

Certainly no firefly rejoices in a Bach fugue, but I suspect that any firefly vividly FEELS something held in common with a Bach fugue when on a summer night he dives and flashes, sups on chill, fresh dew while seeking a mate, and feels his sensitive antennae oscillating in fragrant, onrushing night-air.

Since there's no specific part of the brain in which "the soul" or even consciousness resides, my Kentucky farmboy instincts lead me to believe that there must be a universal natural law that wherever there's a concentration of complexly organized interconnections interacting methodically, "awareness" arises. Thus surely not only dogs and chickens feel and are aware but also plants, and maybe even ecosystems, and maybe even planetary biospheres, and computers and electromagnetic fields resonating with one another in open space. Surely we are gloriously immersed in a churning, interconnecting Universe of wildly vital and beautiful emotions. We only need to clear our minds enough to behold them.

The belief that humans are somehow set apart from Nature is not only impoverishing of spirit but also biologically lethal. It encourages the superstition that humans are so special that something must be taking care of us, that something will rescue us if we make too much of a mess of things. Thus we continue with our self-destructive and biosystem-destroying behaviors, exactly like a mischievous child expecting a parent to protect them from any real danger, and to clean up any mess.

What does an evangelist or a pamphlet-leaver at the door have to say that's even half as lucid and to the point as what that opinionated parrot said to me the other day? Facebook Icon.