What would you draw if I asked such a question, what images first come to mind? Vast expanses of rainforest, an island in the Pacific Ocean surrounded by turquoise waters, a park near your home, or a city buzzing with people during rush hour?
I could draw the forest which extends in front of me for kilometres around, overlooked by the Drakensberg mountain range of South Africa.
My artistic skills being what they are, I’m not sure how I would incorporate the gentle breeze, nor the myriad of bird calls, and insects bustling around. Would that be a good representation of nature?
How can such a seemingly trivial question give me so much trouble? Do you know what nature is? If you open the Merriam-Webster at nature, you find a good dozen definitions ranging from very specific to extremely broad. I find it interesting how the definitions contradict themselves.
Nature is “the external world in its entirety” on one hand. And, on the other hand; “humankind’s original or natural condition” or “condition escape from civilization”. Nature apparently has aspects that are mutually exclusive.
Let’s look up natural: “having or constituting a classification based on features existing in nature”, “existing or produced by nature”. According to those definitions, there is seemingly a moment in our history when we parted ways with nature.
Was it when our ancestors left the forests to roam the plains of Africa, at the Stone Age, the Middle Ages, the Renaissance, or the first industrial revolution? When did we stop existing in nature?
I have the visceral feeling that we forgot who we were, somewhere along our inexorable quest to understand the world around us.
Will you draw me nature?
By Cyrille Tchesnakoff