Sorry that I have not posted in a few weeks! I have been busy with a combination of exams and camping. I did make a post, on a separate blog for Vancouver’s 4/20 for an organization I work with called CSSDP.
There is a style of Taoist art that features picturesque scenes of mountains, and always features a small sign of humanity in it. The message: the nature-man divide is a false dichotomy; we are nature, and our tools our nature. While artificial barriers between man and nature can sometimes be useful, they also allow us to remove ourselves from nature. We put ourselves above the physical bonds that will eventually turn us into dust, and picture ourselves as symbolic creatures, somehow separate from the world we live in. Ernest Becker considered our mentality to be that of gods with anuses; being attached to the world, but also above it. In a world where our environmental impacts are becoming permanently detrimental to our planet, it might be time to step down off of our pedestal, and really take in how amazingly beautiful and diverse our world is.
The key to our salvation is going to be found in the sheer grace of our world. Cultivating environmental awe and empathy will lead to a dream to change our own habits to maintain the magnificent world we live in. The next couple of weeks are going to be an examination of nature, technology, and awe, and how the three are not nearly as removed from each other as we think. I will be using my trip to Tofino BC to help illustrate the value of both technology and nature in cultivating awe, and how our tools help us to relive these beauties, keeping us aware of the world we want to live in. Like Jason Silva in his new video The Solutions Project, I trade in optimism: we have the ability to actualize the future we want to see! Camping itself is a great example of how technology and nature come together to allow us to experience the outdoors. Camping gear tends to be waterproof, or wicking, allowing campers to stay dry and warm, while either hiking, portaging, or even just staying in a campsite. These are tools that we have constructed with latest technologies, to help buffer the sheer power of the world outside of us, and allow us to take back fond memories instead of damp cold nightmares. Our camping tools are great examples of how old cultural technologies also develop into newer technologies. Canoes and Kayaks are both developed from First Nations (American read: Native American) and Inuit technologies that allow the transportation of goods and easy transport on land without motors. Our paddles become our rudders and our arms help push us across great distances, not normally accessible by human beings ability to swim. It is in the physical labour of the journey, that we come to appreciate the destination even better.
Our trip to Tofino was five nights long, and saw us setting up tents not too far from the beach, on a campsite called Bella Pacifica. Our campsite could not be considered “roughing it”. By our tents there was drinkable running water, and we purchased campfire from gas stations. There were even warm showers! Still, not too far from our campsite was a beach, and the crashing of the waves became the white noise of our waking lives, only rarely replaced by the pitter-patter of raindrops smacking the ground and our tents. Even further, there were amazing rocky bluffs to climb along, and beautiful forest paths to trek through. We were living in a unique utopia, beautiful sun could be traded for torrential downpour in minutes. Even though we were so close to civilization, it felt as if we were in a safe wilderness, a place we could will to be in, or not.
While we had access to our cellphones, for the most part my phone remained on airplane mode, and instead became the camera that allowed me to document the trip. The views and vistas we found were so stunning, capturing them on digital memory gives one the sense of the experience, but still removed from the world they came from. Jason Silva’s piece on The World In A Sentence illustrates the power of photography and film extremely well. Our goal in trying to capture a moment is to distill its essence, an attempt for me to share my ineffable moment with you. The purpose of even sharing this blog post is to give you an idea of the experience I had, to help you experience my world, however transient. While lending an experience may ultimately be a futile attempt, it is part of the great struggle we try and make as humans, a struggle to be truly understood with the tools we have at our disposal. Our technologies give us the capability to help each other experience another life as lived, a temporary lens into a frozen moment in time. The picture above is from Tofino, one of the many beautiful sunsets I saw on my trip. When my roommates camera broke, we started to share my phone camera and take pictures. Part 2 will examine a particular moment on our trip, to what my roommate called ‘Sanctuary’.