Imagine this scene: it’s nighttime, the road is empty, it’s raining, you’re driving on the highway. The car starts sliding and swirling. You start pressing all possible pedals, turning the steering wheel in all directions, but the car keeps whooshing on like a spinning top. You bounce six times off the guardrail and finally stop. You calm down and convince yourself that you ended up so well because you so deftly turned the steering wheel and pressed the pedals. You summarize the event on 73 pages of a report, detailing each movement in detail.
Now, let’s look through the prism of this parable on the last year.
In my life in this world, I’ve never seen the driver having such a firm grip on the steering wheel in the middle of a dizzying vortex, so much engine noise and the squeaking of tires. And so much justification for the rigid control.
I don’t mind us looking back and learning something. But let’s shut up about the future because we’re making fools of ourselves.
Those holding the steering wheel aren’t capable of self-reflection and that becomes clear as I read their projections and predictions about the future: “We are approaching a collision with a guardrail, so we must strengthen the grip. We will collide with the fence on April 5 and twirl on until April 27, but as projections show, we will spin less violently. To mitigate the next collision, we must hold the steering wheel firmly after each collision, fasten our seat belts, pull the handbrake and keep moving the steering wheel left and right as fast as we can. At the same time, passengers are asked not to disturb us. Don’t talk to the driver!”
What about the things we don’t see?
Sequences in nature cannot be easily predicted. If we could read nature, we’d understand that every natural tragedy carries within itself a miraculous child. This child, if we allow it to be born and grow up, brings not only a cure for this one “tragedy,” but perhaps for many others. We cannot know how long the pregnancy and growing up will be; sometimes we have to wait for the grandchildren to bring the cure.
Of course, we are unable to take the time and wait, marvelling at the birth of something new, patiently and humbly. No, with ardent determination we hasten to crush the tiny embryo, to exterminate it! But the tiny creature persists! It’s elusive, faster than we’ll ever be, and at the same time, it has unlimited time… and even unlimited friends, even though it’s still unborn. It learns quickly. Eventually, it will be born, and it’s up to us to accept it as the desired child or as a bastard.
This child may — I’m not predicting this, I’m just dreaming and guessing — manifest the very fears we are trying so hard to prevent. “If we don’t destroy the current virus, a super-virus will soon come to destroy us!” we predict. What if this is a prime example of a “self-fulfilling prophecy”?
A firm grip on the steering wheel doesn’t do anything. What if it even does the opposite: if it makes it worse? We prefer not to talk about it. You know how annoying you feel when someone corrects you while you’re driving.
When the sliding and swirling is over, when we stop, we will calculate to the sixth decimal place how beneficial was our turning the steering wheel and pressing the pedals. We won’t be able to rise above it all and look at ourselves in the context of a decade, a century, a millennium… how fleeting is the effect of panic when viewed in a context of a century? We can only know for sure that we will interpret the course of events in our own way, in a human way, through our own interests and fears.
Let’s ask ourselves: What are we serving? What is our function in the miracle of life around us? Are we just an end to ourselves? Could it be that we, humans, are the planetary tragedy, and various viruses are the Earth’s beloved miraculous cures?
Can’t we see how the children (and we ourselves!) are turning when we remove them from nature?
Blissful waste of breath
Imagine, at the end, a giant linden tree. It’s autumn. There is a huge wall around the linden, we’re standing around the in great numbers and blowing to help the leaves fall off. In a month we are happy to evaluate the level of efficiency, the leaves have fallen off, yay! Our assessments don’t include everything nature had done herself. We could have started blowing at the tree in April, but the leaves wouldn’t fall off any earlier than October. And if they would, we would have tortured the tree.
And there’s something else: because we’ve put a wall around the tree, we prevented the wind from helping us. Ultimately, we will take all the credit for blowing the leaves off, but isn’t this simply devious chicanery?
Masanobu Fukuoka tells the story of how one morning a panicked neighbor came to his door because of cobwebs all over the fields. Fukuoka went to take a look and was fascinated by the beauty of the morning sun’s rays reflected in the dew on the veil of cobwebs on the rice fields. Neighbors hurried to spray them with pesticides, Masanobu silently stood in admiration. A student who was with him at the time went to investigate the matter and soon rushed back to the city to report on the phenomenon; he might have even earned a doctorate from it. Fukuoka stayed by the field and thought how little we really know and how all that knowledge is false — a student would have to stay here for a decade or two to see where these spiders fit.
One year, spiders come and create conditions for grasshoppers to follow in the second year, then it’s ladybirds time in the third year, and May beetles in the fourth, and so on. We will never be able to predict the year when either of them comes, we can only admire all that beauty.
Meanwhile, rice and rye sway in the wind, ever richer from year to year. Sometimes they grow left past the cobwebs, sometimes right, past the aphids, but they always grow upwards. The canopies of tangerines, almonds, apples and lindens rustle in the wind.
To understand how insignificant we are in the midst of all this, we should spend a day or a month contemplating this Japanese proverb:
When the wind stops, the leaves continue to fall from the trees.
Is there anything else to add?