I was visiting a friend the other day and at some point I went to the small guest toilet next to the entrance door. It was about ten o'clock in the evening, the street outside was dark and quiet. While I was getting on with my business, I suddenly became aware of bird singing and the rustling of leaves. When I closed my eyes, it felt like I was peeing in the forest. I love peeing in the forest!
Soon, however, I discovered where the sound was coming from: a small black box on the wall, shaped like a house with tiny speaker holes. I took a photo:
My first thought? 'I need to ask where I can buy one of those!' Pretty cool little gadget, turning the mundane toilet visit into a pleasant and soothing nature retreat.
But the next thought followed soon thereafter and triggered a completely different feeling. Isn't it terribly sad, I wondered, that we're putting artificial bird sounds into our homes? It's like those supposedly romantic log fires flickering on screens in many modern living rooms. A mission impossible, for any screen kills all the magic.
So I kept staring at the box in disbelief. How disconnected have we become from nature that we're desperately trying to recreate its poetry and healing powers with black plastic on white concrete walls?
I talked to my friend about it when I returned from the bathroom. 'It's really cool,' I said, 'but at the same time really fucked up.' He nodded, 'I know.'
But does he really know? Do I really know? Wouldn't we change our daily behaviour and our consumer habits if we really knew? As the old Zen proverb goes, 'to know and not to do is not to know'.
Maybe all the current crises are telling us the same thing. The ongoing pandemic, the tumbling economy and the accelerating environmental crisis are just messengers delivering the same message: We need to reconnect with nature! With true nature, not with pitiful imitations. We need this connection because it's what we are: nature.