Creative Culture


Nature will always prevail over mankind’s accomplishments. After all, “nature” doesn’t have to mean the trees or the grass or the animals who inhabit our planet. Nature is a neutral yet brutal force, and when the flame of humanity has been extinguished, be it by our own doing, some religious apocalypse, or succumbing to the power of the elements, “mother” nature will be indifferent toward our passing. A cold, dark rock in space is the same to her as a clump of bacteria or a clump of human beings who stand on those rocks barreling through the void.

However, we still often associate the word “nature” with life — with the beauty and power of the rainforests, the moss on the side of a septic tank, the beetle traipsing across a window sill, or the lion weaving through tall grass in the Serengeti.

And so while nature can mean an asteroid careening into the planet and extinguishing all life as we know it, it also means the weeds climbing through the cracks in the pavement. The vines wrapping around the pillars of ancient civilizations who thought they would live eternally.

It reminds us that we are passengers in a world that is not our own; that we are transient beings whose bodies dissolve like a warm breath in cold air. It reminds us of what is important — and what is not.

I am also reminded of Percy Shelley’s “Ozymandias,” a favorite of mine:

I met a traveller from an antique land,
Who said—“Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. . . . Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed;
And on the pedestal, these words appear:
My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings;
Look on my Works, ye Mighty, and despair!
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal Wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.”

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Images from Pxhere, Pixabay, Pexels. Featured image Adobe Stock.

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2 years ago

Heh…that’s a fun reversal from my usual perspective! I deal with Reclamation (Bureau of) in the sense of reclaiming arid lands and putting them to productive use by building water infrastructure (reservoirs, irrigation and other water distribution systems), so I tend to think of it in terms of bending nature to our will. But that is an uphill battle, because nature is forever fighting to undo whatever we build. Nature tends to have more resources and to be much more vigilant in her version of reclamation… I hate losing, but it sure can be beautiful (humbling) (devastating) when she wins.

2 years ago

Nice article, and so true! Also, honored to have my photo featured as the hero of it. Cheers!

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