A colleague at work asked me if I had a manifesto.
I replied “no” and asked why. She told me that a news article about a recent mass shooting California said the shooter did not leave behind a manifesto, as if that was unusual.
“Is that a thing now? Are shooters supposed to have manifestos? What about the rest of us?” She said.
Our conversation made me wonder aloud about what my own personal manifesto would look like. At first, I said my manifesto would be full of kittens. Which now, of course, is somewhat true, because I just wrote the word “kittens” in my actual manifesto. Twice.
However, kittens aside, my manifesto has to be about nature.
Go outside. Yes, right now. Take your device with you and keep reading. Take a deep breath. Fill your nostrils and your lungs with air. Feel the breeze, or the heat, or the chill or the humidity on your skin. Look up at the sky, at the blue, the gray, the black, the clouds, the sun, the stars, the moon, the birds. Look back down. Do you see grass? Plants? Trees? What is alive in your current surroundings? Be alive with whatever nature is near you, right now.
When I go outside, I like to get away from all the comforts we have constructed to distance ourselves from nature, all the walls and windows and air conditioners and heaters, all the lamps and end tables and televisions. I try to shed the noise from automobiles and airplanes and the smell of motor oil or wet pavement.
I surround myself instead with nature — falling leaves, birds and brooks singing to one another, tree branches bending in the wind to kiss the brambles. Every thing around me is alive, in the same way that we are alive, even the rocks and soil and water. All of it comes from the same source. The molecules that make humans are related to the moss and lichen, the acorn and tree. All of the things we see in nature have their origins more than 3 billion years ago in the primordial soup; we share that connective tissue.
In nature, everything seems in the process of either being born or dying. Small saplings grow next to fallen oaks. Brown, dry leaves shelter growing mushrooms. Insects eat the decomposing body of a dead squirrel. In nature, I’m constantly reminded of the finite nature of my existence, which makes appreciate each moment I have. I’m also reminded that it’s part of the natural process of ALL life, including my own.
Immersed in the cycle, being a part of that cycle, makes all things fall into place. What power does Instagram have over the flow of water that has worn through hard rocks over millions of years to carve its way to the sea? What hold do YouTube videos have when eagles soar on thermals, then plunge into the water to catch their dinner?
We need to nurture this connection with the natural world now more than ever, as our attempts to distance ourselves from nature have damaged the Earth possibly past repair. Any reparation we can achieve will only happen when we understand that we cannot exist without the air we breathe, the water we drink, the food that comes from plants grown in fertile soil.
So go outside. Find nature. Make that connection.
That’s it. My Nature Manifesto. I choose life. I choose nature. I invite you to choose it with me, whether it’s visiting your farmer’s market to buy fresh produce, tending a garden, bringing a plant to work, reducing your carbon footprint or hiking for weeks in the wilderness. We all need nature; we will not survive without it.