Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Oh MY-celium. The fascinating world of fungi ..and other such wonderful conciousness provokers.

I've been reading A LOT lately - a plethora of different topics, and yet the funny thing is - they all end up circling back to one and other - granted it's likely because I've selected theses books specifically from the library as they peak my interest and my interest is peaked by similar things... but either way - I love the connections I'm finding...and not just in the books themselves, in the people I meet ....who, for example, will happen to mention something that I then go to read about that very night in my book - I believe that is the universes way of telling me I'm on the right track. To that I say, Thank-You, Universe! ...or Thank You-Niverse?

What I wanted to quickly share is how fascinating fungi are and how much I love Paul Stamets - the magnificient mycologist. This video (included below) never stops giving me shivers - every time I watch, I wanted to share that. But then my brain juices started to flow and so more wonders of the world were shared - I hope you enjoy. :)

Mycelium is earth's natural internet; the nodes of crossing organized by the mycelium conforms to the same mathematical optimization curves that the internet theorists and scientists have developed to optimize the computer internet. Or rather, I guess I should say that the internet conforms to the same optimization curves as the mycelium, since the mycelium came first. Nature has already optimized its networks as we struggle to optimize our computer network. 
- Paul Stamets -

I picked up Mycelium Running by Paul Stamets from the library, just recently, and the first few pages had me hooked (in error I wrote "booked" ...punnily, I maybe should have left it). I also read the interview Derrick Jensen did with him in the book The Truths Among Us; in fact that is why I got the book from the library in the first place - as I saw there was an interview with the wonderful Paul Stamets! I highly recommend both of these "food-for-thought" books.

In addition, in my search at the library I stumbled upon the film 2012: Time for Change; not to be confused by the sensationalized John Cusack movie, 2012, this movie explores the depths of our awareness and the evolution in conciousness. It also touches on Permaculture and surprisingly, a famous actor makes an appearance  and she comments on Permaculture... I won't spoil the surprise as to who is it - you'll just have to watch! A friend showed me that this film is actually available for viewing online here - check it out!! I highly recommend it - and then let me know what you think! Try not to let the trailer run you astray - the movie is very positive focused and solutions oriented and that's why I loved it. There's enough negativity floating around in this world - it's time we move through that pain, and tell a different story, as Joanna Macy would say in her book (co-authored by Chris Johnstone) Active Hope: How to face the mess we're in without going crazy (which I also, highly, reccomend - especially if you're feeling a bit down about our current state of the world).

EDIT: A quote I just read in the book Natures Operating Instructions, emulates this need to change quite nicely "The challenge we face is not ultimately a technical one. The real pivot will be the story we tell ourselves, the narrative by which we make sense of the world, and that guides our lives. We need a new creation story"

Our stories change even when we look at biological evolution and what we've come to understand as "survival of the fittest". I was given this example in my Permaculture Design Certificate course (which I'm still in the process of taking and LOVING it).... we looked at the situation of predator and prey...

The "old world" (this will be the "negative world, for sake of understanding) would have us believe that the world is harsh and competitive, that we must kill or be killed, and that when a lion eats a gazelle, it is a loss for the gazelle community; and a sad one at that.

However, that SAME story can be flipped right upside down (right-side up? ;)), to the "New World" (positive world - and in fact, this is heavily science based as well, and part of biology and ecological systems) this new story tells us that in fact, that lion is doing the gazelle community a service (now, how do I say this without offending anyone)....the gazelle that was eaten was, likely weaker - be it from sickness, or age - would have had it's family wanting to help it along the way and not wanting to simply abandon it, but it makes the community weaker and takes resources away from the young who really need all the resources they can get (you can only be as strong as your weakest link - so to speak)- so the lion, in fact, is doing a respectful service to the gazelle community. It's all about how you frame it. Life can be scares, or abundant - I choose to focus on the latter - and it's not merely heresy.

I mean - it's the circle of life and a lot of us likely learned this as kids watching The Lion King,  but somewhere along the way, we got our stories mixed isn't "nasty, brutish, and short" as Thomas Hobbes once speculated - life is magnificent, absolutely, positively mag-ni-fi-cient!

EDIT: The same night I wrote this blog, I sat down to read a bit before bed in  Natures Operating Instruction by Kenny Ausubel, and I find the exact comment about how we interpreted Darwin wrong - the universe interactions are uncanny! "Over a century ago, industrial robber barons hijacked Darwin's story of the evolutionary tree of life. They distorted Darwin's theory of natural selection into a parable of "survival of the fittest". They lionized "nature red in tooth and claw" and a violent, amoral struggle for existence where might makes right, and the ruthless pursuit of self-interest automatically results in the greatest good for the whole. Though they were true believers, their social Darwinism was expedient political cover with which to justify economic monopoly and endemic social injustice. It was also bad science" Ausubel goes on to say, and puts it more eloquently, at that, when he says "What Darwin was actually saying was that the fittest are those best adapted to existing conditions at a particular historical moment in a specific environmental context (he was primarily addressing the relationship between food supply and population size" - BAM! ..."In other words, mutual aid is also the law of the jungle" Interdepdence and symbiosis - these are the lessons we must learn from nature.

Just look around you! You are on a living, breathing, life-giving, planet, that is suspended in a vast, largely unknown, universe, you are on "Spaceship Earth" and it's pretty spectacular. Don't you agree?

You have been given a gift. You are able to exist in life and engage in meaningful relationships with friends and lovers; you are able to laugh, and cry; you are able to smell the sweet scents of spring in the air, and the cool crispness in the air after a fresh rain. You are able to understand emotions, and you are able to choose how you feel about anything that comes your way.

These are all things that life has granted us - let's get out there and explore! Touch some soil! Remember that we're so intricately connected to nature, to each other, to the natural world. Indeed, that is all we are, all we could ever hope to be, all we ever need to be- let's embrace that, and use it to our advantage. Let us look to nature for answers - indeed, she is the only one who has them all!

As Paul Stamets said in the above mentioned Truths Among Us book "[n]ature knows more than we think, in fact it knows more than we can think" and he goes on to say "[i]f we are born of nature, and if we are intelligent, how can you possible think other than that nature is intelligent?" 

Look at this company - they've got the right idea, mimicking nature - The Lilly Impeller. Nature has all the tools to success we will ever need, and we are only just beginning to discover these tools - what an exciting time to be in existence.

We may have swayed a little off course but hey, we can get right back on - nature is there to help us thrive,and she will guide us if we let her. Will we let her show us the way?

Nature does not have unemployment or waste - we don't have to either. Just because our current system does not exhibit these characteristics, does not mean we won't get there...we're just learning, we're a young species -  these things take time - nature has had billions of years of trial and error - we've had but a blip - "[m]ulticellular organisms like us are one very late-blooming tip on a single branch of the tree of life. It's a tree we know little about- (Ausubel)" but we're learning, and we have the resources to learn - let's get on it! :)

Ultimately, it's time we not only tell and share, but live, the new story - that, indeed, isn't very new at all - it's been with us the whole time, we've just been swayed a touch - and that's ok, as long as we recognize it, we're doing good. It's time we bring into our hearts into the equation, and connect that story within our hearts, and within, both, our distant, and not-so-distant  neighbours' hearts - we are all connected ,we are all in this together.

I feel the quote from Louis Rodriguez (again in Truths Among Us) resonates well with what I'm trying to get across:

//The word respect  comes from the Latin word respectus, which means "to see again". It's a beautiful concept. We have to see each other again. one is different from us, a thread connects us all - the more we look, the thicker that thread becomes; sometimes it may be invisible but it's there. We've got to make it more visible. There is no such thing as a separate reality. What we do here affects people over there// - Louis Rodriguez-

We have the power to choose ... let's choose the positive way. As, I believe, Bill Mollison says "We can be just as much positive as we are negative" ... and well, we've done the negative thing for quite some time now - don't you think we're about due for a change? Oui!? I think fact, I know so!

Namaste world - you are a lovely place and I'm filled with gratitude to be in existence.

I leave you with a few more of my favourite quotes from the Truths Among Us book (thank you, Derrick,  please let me know if you would like me to remove these as I do not want to be infringing on your copyrite, I merely want to share the knowledge and insight that you have managed to capture in your wonderfully written book - which I encourage everyone to have a read through!) :)

It's as if we think that all of nature is unintelligent except for us. Well, the earth has intelligence and purpose and fates all of her own. And those are really the primary fates. It is up to us to be in alignment with those purposes, not to go against them, nor to sit back and pretend . You have to give back. You have to participate in those Fates. Because they are your Fates as well.  The fates are good. And they attract us because that attraction is attracting us to our purpose, and toward the good.  If we could just remember the ancient philosophical principal, that good attracts, we could realize that these creation myths are attracting us for the future, calling upon us to take up our responsibilities, to bring that creation into being. Because creation is ongoing and collective, and we participate in it - Jane Caputi -

We're not just one organism. We are composites, Every species out there has a label that we've put on it to create a language so that we can communicate the identities of what we see as the phenotypes in nature. So that we can look at a tree and say, it's a Douglas fir. I am a composite of microbes that are unified with one voice. And so I guess you could say that I am the elected voice of a microbial community. This is the way of life on our plant. It is based on these complex symbiotic relationships - Paul Stamets -

These forces of light and life or inexorable and ever present, but we struggle so hard to ignore them and maintain status quo. Much of the civilization in which we live is the result of a refusal to see, or to listen: to the imagination, to our fellow beings, to the woundedness we all feel, which could change the world if we just acknowledged it. It's as if we've created this whole deafening way of living just to make sure that we can't hear this thing that can be so quiet, as quiet as a butterfly. Our defense industries, goodies factories, light speed lifestyle, and media oversaturation are all arrayed to cover up this gentle, quite sound. But all in the din and clatter of the world, can never down it out. It is always there, as close as our own breath - Marc Ian Barasch -