By Blair McKissock
Ralph Waldo Emerson believed that "All creation is one." He thought that we should try to live life in harmony with nature. In his works, he talks about our interconnectedness with all things. Many philosophers and scientists are exploring how we are all connected, from the very benign and simple to the complicated depth of quantum physics. If you survey people walking down the street, most people will agree that we are all connected in some way with each other, and the natural world, yet most will also agree that most of the time they feel alone or disconnected. With everything going on in our world, it can be easy to forget that we are never alone; not on this earth, or even when we are separated by walls and distance. All living beings on this earth and universe have to coexist with each other. In some ways this is the first way we are connected. If we examine how we are all connected, it might be harder to forget, and can be another tool to help us stay grounded in and among the chaos of life. It might also help us to make more compassionate decisions about the way we use our resources, if we deepen our awareness of how we are interconnected with them. There is so much depth to this type of work, and I’m not smart enough to understand most of it, yet if we stick to the commonalities that most of us can understand then it’s not out of reach.
Carbon- First and foremost, we are all connected by our basic structure. Carbon forms the key component for all known life on Earth, because it can bond with all the other elements in our atmosphere, and it plays a dominant role in the chemistry of life. Carbon is found in many different compounds; it is in the food you eat, the clothes you wear, the cosmetics you use, and the gasoline that fuels your car.
Breath- On earth all of life requires taking in of some elements, and sending out elements through an exchange process. For many forms of life, this is the act of breathing. As we take in oxygen, and breathe out carbon dioxide, others are taking in the carbon dioxide, and breathing out oxygen. We are taking in what another sends out. If we stop the exchange process, we all cease to exist. On a spiritual level, it is not just about the taking in of elements but also the exchange of essence. If we looked at our breath from an emotional point of view, we exhale love and compassion, as another form of life takes in that love and compassion, and of course, the opposite is also true.
Water- All life on earth requires water to survive. Water travels through every inch of this earth, and through every inch of our body. What we put into the water is taken in by something else, and becomes a permanent part of that something else. What you drink out of your tap is connected to a person on the opposite side of the globe in what they put into it, and the reverse is true.
Senses– Though not all life has the same ability to reason, we all have the ability to perceive the world around us through our senses. According to some thinkers, we have over 54 senses well beyond the common taste, touch, sight, etc.; we also have senses of hunger and thirst. We also have a drive to procreate, which could be thought of as a sense of self and a desire to leave a part of ourselves after we leave.
Birth and death– Life is cyclical. The one thing we can count on is change; it is constant. We are created, we are born, we live, and we die. Everything in the Universe is bound by the Law of Rhythm and non-permanence; our seasons on Earth, the tides, a woman’s cycle. Everything ebbs and flows, comes and goes. Nothing can exist forever. It is a foundational truth in many schools of thought, yet it is one of the hardest things for humans to come to terms with.
Cause and effect– This is another Universal Truth that connects us all, yet one that we deny. Every action has a consequence. In our life, we are one cause and effect after another, yet sometimes we choose not to see the ripple that our actions create. All of life is bound to affect all other life. On our journey into awareness it is something we must learn to understand, and our choices are a direct reflection of our level of understanding. We are getting better at seeing the ripples close to us, and working on the realization of the ripples that continue to expand out long after the action has been done.
When we celebrate what connects us, rather than what divides us, then we begin to understand the power within that connection. When we feel alone, we feel powerless. When we feel connected, we feel and are powerful.
Blair McKissock is a recreational therapist specializing in nature-based learning. She is an author, mother, speaker, yogi, and experiential geek. To learn more about upcoming workshops and clinics, visit her website at: stridestosuccess.com.