As more and more of us live in cities, we look to undisturbed, people-less natural environments for peace and calm. While some make the time to convene with nature in real life – hiking or biking a forest trail, walking on the beach – many get their fill through conveniences like Calm app’s nature simulations, computer screensavers, and wildlife documentaries. The Eight Master Lessons of Nature by Gary Ferguson is one such convenience, and I find it to be more enjoyable and profound than most. If there was a pill that could make you feel happy, peaceful and awestruck by the beauty, mystery and connection of yourself and the world around you, it would either be molly or this book. The latter lasts longer though, and guarantees life-ready lessons for a fulfilling life.Gary Ferguson is a decorated author in the world of American natural history. He’s been living in cabins, hiking, tracking wolves and hawks, and writing about his epic experiences for the rest of us city-slickers since the 80’s. The man is clearly a master at what he does, and Eight Master Lessons culminates a lifetime of work and wisdom into a fun and accessible read. Ferguson spoke to many of my questions and feelings about our place in the world, and I am a better person from reading his book. I am more grateful for my relationship with myself, others, and the environment, and also understand more about where Western society has gone wrong. Not only did it help me put my life into perspective, but also has inspired new practices like “free and easy wandering” and sketching natural scenery. I won’t give you the eight lessons because you should read the book. But here are some quotes and notes that have to help you decide whether you agree:
How to blow your mind: think about all of the things in our world and universe that we can’t comprehend. How to pick up the pieces: practice compassion, gratitude, and humility I will create problems for myself and those around me when I believe that I am the center of the universeRelationships enable the system as a whole to thriveAbsolutist thinking and language are correlated with increased mental distressMost species are matriarchal and for good reason. Many human societies are not, and it’s because men made it that way.
“Science cannot solve the ultimate mystery of nature and that is because in the last analysis, we ourselves are a part of the mystery that we are trying to solve”
“Anthropomorphism makes no sense… we’re the ones that took our qualities from the animals”
Persistence is fueled by gratitude
“Beauty will save the world” – Fyodor Dostoyevsky
Finally, if you love either or both of these videos, this book is for you:Neil deGrasse Tyson on the most astounding fact:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9D05ej8u-gU
David Foster Wallace on what we choose to think about:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eC7xzavzEKY