“Look deep into nature, and you will understand everything better.” –Albert Einstein
According to leading scientists, the earth is around 4.5 billion years old. In contrast, it’s estimated that modern day humans have existed for around 50,000 years. Due to this discordance, I feel that the earth has a pulsating wisdom that we young and inexperienced humans can learn from. Nature has many lessons to teach if only we have the mind to listen.
An example of this wisdom that’s been put to use comes in the form of a Japanese bullet train. Several years ago, Japan had a train that had a top speed of two hundred miles per hour. The problem with it was that it produced an extreme amount of noise hundreds of yards away when entering and exiting tunnels. The trains chief engineer, who was an avid birdwatcher, had an “aha” moment one day while bird watching. He observed how quietly a bird, called a kingfisher swooped into the water, caught a fish and flew away barely making a splash. Seeing this, he went back and reengineered the train’s nose in the exact anatomy of the kingfisher’s beak. The results were nothing short of amazing. Not only was the train quieter, but it also reduced the energy expenditure.
This is just one example in a field of science known as biomimicry. Biomimicry is the study of nature’s models and how we can translate them into designs that solve human problems. Solving human problems is one of the greatest goals that give our lives meaning. Victor Frankl, psychiatrist and author of Man’s Search for Meaning felt that at the foundation of all mental disorders, a loss of meaning and purpose will be found. When found, that meaning will act as an antidote to the depression, anxiety or other disorders that may affect the person. Through biomimicry, we can find a universal meaning of life. That meaning of life will unfold through listening to the lessons of three natural phenomena.
The first natural phenomenon that we can learn from is a virus. A virus, in its simplest form, is a snake shaped strand of DNA wrapped inside a protein envelope. It works by deceptively sneaking into your cells where it takes over the cells machinery for the purpose of cranking out copies of itself. These copies then exit the cell in a multitude of ways, one of which is called cell lysis. In essence, it blows up the cell, releasing copies of the virus which then go on to repeat the process in thousands of other cells. In the meantime, your body tries to rid itself of the viruses by coughing them out of your lungs, purging them from your stomach and giving you such intense muscle pain that it makes it impossible to focus on anything else that’s not geared toward healing.
I would say that this crystallizes part of the lifeblood of what we, as humans, were put here to do. Each one of us is one mind, wishing to influence tens, hundreds or thousands of other minds with our ideas and actions. When used through speech, the power of words, like viruses cannot be seen but if used properly, they will cause a measurable physiologic response in our listeners. Our listeners can then crank out and disseminate copies of our ideas to thousands of others with the effect becoming exponential. All prominent historical figures from Jesus through Gandhi have used the medium of public speaking to infect millions with their ideas. These historical figures have caused such positive symptoms in their listeners that they went out and shared these ideas after becoming infected.
The second aspect of nature that can teach us is fire. Fire is a great dichotomy. We’ve all been mesmerized by its beauty but at the same time, we’ve seen it destroy lives. Fire teaches us about momentum and the importance of using this momentum for positive change. Socrates became immortalized when he gave his apology speech which was a giant leap forward in the freedom to think and question freely. His written words have also created a fire that still burns brightly in millions of minds to this present day.
Winston Churchill gave his finest hour speech that brought hope at a dark time during the war. We all have a unique and deep well of ideas that we wish to use to create change. We, however, become static in our thinking and when we work up the courage to externalize our ideas, we become like the fire that at first refuses to burn. Most of us give up and go back to that static way of thinking. Those who persist become that raging fire that now takes a great deal of energy to put out. We have momentum on our side. It takes less energy at this point to externalize more of our ideas, to keep burning brightly. It does, however, take some energy which is why we should never become complacent lest the fire does eventually go out.
Water teaches us about both the ability to change and the ability to stay persistent. There are times during our journey that we need to be fluid and willing to change course. In Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, you need to constantly change your attack based on the movements of your opponent. If you persist in trying one type of joint lock the entire time, your opponent will easily defend it and eventually you’ll come out on the losing end. In the world at large, we are now past the information age and are presently in the conceptual age. Those of us who will thrive will need to become adept at taking all these pieces of information and putting it together into a meaningful whole to be used by the rest of society. Yesterday’s skills are no longer useful today. To this end, we need fluidity.
In contrast, there are times that we need to give the middle finger to the rest of the world in order to walk our own path. The Roman philosopher, Seneca once said this about water:
What is harder than rock? What is softer than water? Yet hard rocks are hollowed out by soft water.
In releasing your ideas to the rest of the world, the words ‘that can’t be done,’ or ‘you’re fucking crazy’ are going to be heard more times than there are grains of sand on the earth. J.K Rowling, the author of the Harry Potter series, was rejected by 12 different publishers. Her desire, love and obsession for what she believed in caused her to become like that water hollowing out the rock of 12 publishing companies before the thirteenth company realized how strong her current was. Gandhi used non-violent opposition, not military force to create change despite being told it couldn’t be done.
Through nature and biomimicry, we can learn immensely about how to live a purposeful life by spreading our ideas. We learn from the virus to spread our unique ideas to the masses so that they may in turn continue to spread them. We learn from fire to use momentum in a positive way so these ideas burn brightly long after our minds that created them cease to exist. Water teaches us to embrace change when necessary and to stay persistent until you hollow out rock.
The earth has had an enormously longer life than humanity and if we listen to its wisdom, we will have many spiritual and physical gifts to share with the world. The greatest of minds have learned to harness this power and their thoughts and ideas continue to permeate our consciousness though they’ve long ago taken their last breaths.
About the Author
M.J. Higby practices medicine in Phoenix, AZ. He is passionate about martial arts, most notably Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. He enjoys writing about mental, spiritual and physical well being and questioning the methods by which we attain it. You can reach him on Facebook and Twitter @MJHigby
This article (3 Things Nature Can Teach Us About Idea Sharing) was originally created and published by Waking Times and is published here under a Creative Commons license with attribution to M.J. Higby and WakingTimes.com. It may be re-posted freely with proper attribution, author bio, and this copyright statement.
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