Since coming to live on an island, I have had the opportunity to explore and examine life on the pinacle of this little mountain, that made its way up to the surface, in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.
The island of Maui is part of the most remote archepeligo on the planet. It has one of the most diversified collection of plant life ever assembled, both naturally and with the majority of species brought here by ancient mariners, explorers and people wishing to find a small patch of land to enjoy with tropical rains, breezes and unencumbered sunshine.
My ancestral roots hail from an Island half way around the world, where the climate is not as moist as the subtropics, but still sunny, with a variety of trees and and plant life that thrives on their home terrain.
It would be a fair assumption to say that the plants in Sicily are by no means connected to the plants in Maui. There is just too much earth and rock and water between them. They do; however share the same light and night. The same people may, at one time or another walk their soil, harvest and partake in the nutrition that each land yields. I have not been back to Sicily, although I do enjoy olives from my homeland from time to time, shipped here by plane or a large cargo ship.
There is; however, a feeling that we as a people are all connected in some large way. A way beyond what we could imagine. Religions attempt to explain and preach of the divine, and how we are a special life here on the earth. Some religions dismiss certain species, like dogs or cats, bugs or rats … plants even are expendable not to mention those species that provide us with a complete protien source.
There are plenty of examples in nature where, the all of it, is expendiable and available for survival. Birds will pluck living creatures from the ground and munch on bright colored fruits that arrive during the season. Humans do the same, justifying the consumption to survive, some claiming to be the top of the food chain. We have a brain and conscious after all. Animals do as well, but we are not able to speak with them fully, other than through our kindness or saddly in our haste to demote them to a lower being.
As I have examined this tropical paradise, I see all of this here. The microcosm and practicies of the world are all here … from fishing, farming, agriculture, machinery, stores, more stores and entertainment for the human species … where the vast array of plant life is simply drinking in sunlight and doing the only thing it knows how to do … live, grow, produce, flourish and provide for itself, and for those creatures that are smart enough, partake of its bounty.
Jeremy, a friend of mine once said, “We are just plants with feet.” and his sentence got me to thinking. Ah yes, we are from the earth and the sunlight we indirectly consume from them. We have a mind, but from observation, they do not. We can certainly personify our plant friends, talk to them, take care of them like we would a friend or loved one, but do they think and know that we are here?
I ponder this as I watch them during the day. They appear to be reactive to the environment, moving toward the sun or into the shade as the need may be. I will tell you, I have not seen a plant think. I have been stabbed by them when to close. They have given me a rash, and some try to sufficate me if I eat them. Through some evolutionary process, they have found a way to survive.
Interestingly enough; however they do not exploit one another. They do vie for the light and I guess this is their way to survive, but I don’t think they do this consiously. It is just in their genetics to react to the light.
As I think back to Jeremy’s words … We have a special gift of mobility while plants are rooted in one place. They can use us to propigate and move about, but are, for the most part confined to a small patch of land, an island if you will, isolated from the rest of the world.
They do not have a conscious or do they? We are all here with plants and animals on the same patch earth using and consuming its resources. We all consume the sunlight, directly or indirectly. We all want to survive. We are all connected in this way, and perhaps we are all, each life, each plant, each creature, simply part of the the larger body, the earth.
Perhaps, collectively, we are all one after all.