Is it worth looking for a recipe for longevity and health in nature? A long time ago, you could indeed say that we were part of nature, we spent most of our lives in the middle of a forest or a cave or a simple cottage structure. Our daily activities included hunting, preparing found food, planting vegetables, caring for animals, and many other natural activities. Even interpersonal communication, to which we have been accustomed to from the beginning of our existence, is based on body language and senses.
Speaking is done not only with words but also with voice, sound, and intonation. We not only think that we are talking, but we feel it, too. Reducing this down to the level of words alone, such as sending text messages or emails, takes away many natural means of expression. It’s hard to convey our emotions and their nuances with simplified emoticons, often leading to confusion. In live meetings we stimulate ourselves through the action or reactions of our interlocutors taking place in realtime. Seeing their faces, watching their movements, hearing their voices … This is why face-to-face talk naturally gives us motivation, and why writing emails is dull.
We can express our opinions not only using words but also through sound or body gestures. Like a good movie, essential scenes and emotions aren’t just marked with words. Sometimes you have to hit the table with your fist, to shout, to leave the room, or tear up a letter from your ex-sweetheart. These are all non-verbal signals that stimulate us very strongly and make us feel deeply alive. Meanwhile, reducing communication to the level of a text strips communication of most of these experiences and, therefore, are flatter. Therefore, we are not so lively with the whole process. It is boring.
In this respect, we have deviated significantly from nature and we’ve lost a lot of our natural motivations. This may explain why our current attention span is so short.
In real, natural life, we stimulated so many senses and released so many accidental emotions, enriching the process of communication. In current times where most jobs, activities, and communications are simplified, our short attention span may result from boredom.
We, as a society, are becoming more theoretical, a society in which everybody knows everything from the internet. But real, natural experiences are helpful in making the right decisions.
In the past, people had to hunt for animals, kill them, skin them, cook them, and finally eat them. In those times, people respected food and animals more.
As it is today, we buy a rectangular piece of meat without any contact with the whole process described above. It is very easy to ignore the animals and current methods of meat production if we don’t see their suffering. We don’t even feel a gram of negative emotion, only the wonderful taste of fried meat.
Life is full of both light and heavy emotions, though not all of us have regular contact with these and without such there is no chance at a fuller life. We need to stimulate our senses and not just the mind to keep us from living in the wrong ways. In the past, people had to physically meet and spend time with each other to talk, allowing people to build relationships; time devoted to physically meeting others is a vital and understated element of real life today.
I heard a story of a woman whose father had cancer and was dying in hospital. One time the woman asked a doctor how she should behave and what to say when she entered the father’s room. The doctor replied, “If you come here for a few minutes because, in the rush of your life, you don’t have much time to devote to your father, the words you say will make no difference. Your time and closeness are the most precious things you can offer him now.”
It would have been natural for a man hundreds of years ago, but today we spend too much energy trying to think up the perfect ways to say things to convince someone of our feelings.
In the past, when people lived fully integrated with nature, even physical activities such as moving logs or stones, climbing or moving over difficult terrain, stimulated our nervous and immune systems and provided new stimuli to our senses, not just to the mind. Nature provided us with a wealth of chaotic experiences, of which our immunity and health was built on.
The question “Do we need contact with nature?” is wrongly asked. Integration with nature is about being a part of nature, whereas contact with nature does not seem as important because it can be superficial. I would compare it to visiting a zoo to see what real animals look like. We cannot take care of them or hunt them, we can only passively observe them. Therefore, contact, rather than integration with nature, is not that important and does not benefit our lives. We don’t need contact, but a deep bond. We cannot recreate the richness of life’s emotions by working in the cities and using our minds and laptops only. Let it be just a part of our lives. Especially if we want stronger, healthier bodies and an exciting life as well.
You read a chapter from my book. If you like it read the entire book here https://pawel-lipka.com/books/