We’re intricately connected
We are in and of the world, materially embedded in the same rain-drenched field that the rocks and the ravens inhabit, and so can come to knowledge only laterally, by crossing paths with other entities and sometimes lingering, responding to a thing’s sparkle or its calloused coolness, slowly becoming acquainted with its characteristic tenor and style, the unique manner in which it resists our assumptions.
David Abrams’ Becoming Animal is a gorgeous experience of connection. We know we are intricately entwined with all the living systems on this planet and that you-I-we are in continuous interaction with this environment. It brings us joy, makes us cold, feeds us, nurtures our vitality and far far more.
Consequently, to have these connections vibrantly brought to life, to illustrate our entanglement with the grace and care that Becoming Animal does, its words evoking our body’s understanding of this is simply glorious. David enacts our interbeing with the earth:
…behind the exultation of light.
The cry of a red-tail hawk echoes off the rock faces—then just the gleaming silence. The silence is not perfect; now and then the faint, papery rattle of a dragonfly sounds near the lake’s surface. There’s also a suspicion of leaves scattered and rocking on the water, though your eyes can hardly focus on them among all the shifting rays.
He evokes my felt senses of connection with the world around, the strange contrasts that you-I-us may often not notice in our expectations of what is ordinary and standard: Often forgetting the reality of how new and strange our modern habits really are:
This sitting on chairs is a strange new thing for the primate body—holding our hindquarters away from the ground, our flexible spine suspended in air. Civilized, to be sure. Yet how much more nourishment our spines once drew from their oft-renewed friendship with the ground—planting themselves there, like trees, as we prepared our foods and whittled our implements, squatting on our haunches as we wove patterns into bright cloth and chatted with kin. But now we scorn the ground. Gravity, we think, is a drag upon our aspirations; it pulls us down, holds us back, makes life a weight and a burden.
Of course, we are not separate like this. The entwinements are within us:
Yet this gravitational draw that holds us to the ground was once known as Eros—as Desire!—the lovelorn yearning of our body for the larger Body of Earth, and of the earth for us. The old affinity between gravity and desire remains evident, perhaps, when we say that we have fallen in love—as though we were off-balance and tumbling through air, as though it was the steady pull of the planet that somehow lay behind the eros we feel toward another person. In this sense, gravity—the mutual attraction between our body and the earth—is the deep source of that more conscious delirium that draws us toward the presence of another person. Like the felt magnetism between two lovers, or between a mother and her child, the powerful attraction between the body and the earth offers sustenance and physical replenishment when it is consummated in contact. Although we’ve lately come to associate gravity with heaviness, and so to think of it as having a strictly downward vector, nonetheless something rises up into us from the solid earth whenever we’re in contact with it.
He touches into our many realities in Becoming Animal. Letting you-I-us touch these viscerally as we journey to trees, to shadows, through the night and much more.
An entity that captures my gaze is never revealed to me in its totality; it presents some facet of itself to my eyes while always withholding other aspects from my direct apprehension. I never see a ponderosa pine in its entirety—I see one side of this wide trunk with its fissured bark, while the other side remains concealed. When I walk around to view the other side, that first side is obscured. Nonetheless, I now have a fuller sense of this trunk—although its interior structure remains hidden. The corrugated furrows in its bark seem to recede into that interior; they beckon me closer to touch their various layers and to peer within the deep crevasses. Mmmm—there is a faint scent of vanilla emanating from this particular furrow. As my nose follows the scent closer in, a spiderweb snags on my face and is wrecked as I pull away; now the spider herself is racing up the bark just in front of me, climbing toward the heights. I tilt my head back, tracking the spider with my eyes. I can see only sporadic glimmerings of the upper branches; they’re mostly hidden by the spray of needles, as the spreading roots of this pine are concealed beneath the ground. If, seized by an uncontrollable urge to know the whole of this being, I brought over a shovel and began to dig up those roots, I’d be endangering the vitality and beauty of this pine, interrupting the very mystery that draws me back to this huge tree day after day.
Becoming Animal reflects many of the themes and research explored on this website:
- You’ll find the everything is whole and partial perspectives from that last quote in the Integral posts here>
- Those same posts chart what David brings to life so beautifully too, the interplays of us as individuals with the collective worlds around us. The ongoing and deep dynamics between physical worlds and systems, actual behaviors, our psychologies and cultures too.
- There’s a depth of science through which we can validate these links. See, for example, the Quantum Social Science posts here>
- Or simply live and breath in Wildness here>