Having returned to the rancho at Ek Balam, with my "node days" ended -- those days of introspection, self criticism and change occasioned by my 70th birthday -- I find myself less interested in generating words than ever. I touched on why in the last Newspaper, noting current political and social realities. Deeds, not words. Except that I just can't keep myself from expressing awe and reverence, to anyone who'll listen, with regard to Nature's beautiful things.

"Beauty." During the last two weeks of travel, beauty has taken on an added dimension for me. It came about because my friend in Tepotzlán kept good-naturedly pestering me to explain the premises on which I base my "Nature as Bible" philosophy of life, and spirituality.

In the end I had to admit that my belief system has no rational basis at all. My beliefs are neither self evident nor provable. However, thanks to my friend's badgering, now I realize that my life's philosophy and spirituality actually are rooted in beauty. Here's how that works:

Over the years, my philosophy of life and spirituality have coalesced around the notion that the transcendentally good feeling associated with experiencing beauty is positive feedback. It's positive feedback meted out by the Universal Creative Impulse, and it functions just as it does when you give a dog a treat for behaving properly. The dog wants more, so he tends to behave better in the future.

We humans feel a delightful buzz when we experience beauty, and we want more. This is exactly what the Universal Creative Impulse "wants," since those things and circumstances most necessary to the evolving Universe are what we humans find the most beautiful. The Universal Creative Impulse needs us to procreate so we can evolve to higher levels, so humans find few things more beautiful than prospective mates at mating time, and the wide-eyed offspring that result. Music and art that speak to us of higher meanings we find beautiful because higher meaning is the goal of the evolving Universe. Healthy, vibrant forests are beautiful, so we want to protect them, which the Creative Impulse also wants, since humanity's evolving mentality won't go anyplace if the Earth's biosphere is destroyed, us along with it.

Putting this insight into words may make me seem ridiculously dreamy headed. However, the more I think about the concept, the harder it is to find anything wrong with it. In fact, it's much more believable and inspiriting than what's postulated by religions and other world views I've encountered. And, why shouldn't the Universe nudge along its evolving mental components with positive feedback such as the good feeling associated with experiencing beauty?

Beauty has utility, then. It's like a compass on a large ship, infallibly informing us of our lives' correct course.

A life filled with beauty is itself a beautiful thing; a life void of beauty, is on the wrong track.