Man is a lucky creature indeed. We won the evolutionary arms race, a triathlon that started in the primordial soup, then grew legs and ran a foot race out of Africa, before ending with the invention of the wheel. Once clear of our nearest competitors we became the lords of our kingdom, developed an intelligence that sets us apart from every other creature on the planet.
Take for instance the butterfly. It struggles for life over four events, not three: egg, lava, pupa, and then adult. And it’s prize for completing the race, though majestic and graceful, is short-lived.
Man, as a self-conscious entity, observes this struggle and paints the butterfly’s bitter-sweet existence with brushes and pens – which makes you wonder why a creature so disposed to creation also has such a propensity for destruction.
Yet nature does inspire us, and not just in the the arts. Nature’s design and chaos brings inspiration to the engineering world, and medicine, and spiritualism – and it is as much a part of us as we are of it.
When nature reaches out to me – flutters past me on the breeze – it is with words and song that I construct my net to try and catch it. And as I read the words of other, more talented writers than I, I know I am not alone in the pursuit of this inscrutable entity.
And so it was I had the idea for this post, after coming across this passage in Cormac McCarthy’s Border Trilogy, inspired by the rugged wilderness of the Mexico-U.S borderlands:
“He lay on his back in his blankets and looked out where the quartermoon lay cocked over the heel of the mountains. In that false blue dawn the Pleides seemed to be rising up into the darkness above the world and dragging all the stars away, the great diamond of Orion and Cepella and the signature of Cassiopeia all rising up through the phosphorous dark like a sea-net. He lay a long time listening to the others breathing in their sleep while he contemplated the wildness about him, the wildness within.”
Extract taken from All the Pretty Horses by Cormac McCarthy