Every great civilization follows a pattern. It is a redundancy that is lost to the generations who have yet to live it because it spans multiple generations. It is a cycle that provides important clues to our Nations development and the development and end result of a “Global Economic Community”. The Great Gardens of Babylon, The Empire of Egypt, the Heart of Greece, Rome, and so many others, once nestled in fertile river valleys, were able to expand their power and influence far and wide. Each time, the success of the people was attributed to technology, the mind, the government…but never the lush habitat’s that supported the raw material, the food, and the leisure time to think these great thoughts. We see this on a micro scale in our cities. Young and vibrant at first, the city attracts the artists, the business folk, and the entrepreneur. A young city is exiting, vibrant, full of story rife with opportunity…Newark, Watts, South Philly…these places are not what they used to be. Any elder not shut in to their own apartment behind five dead bolts can tell you, things were different. The cycle is inevitable when following a certain perspective. It comes when we forget our interconnection with the landscape. The environment is a reflection of our own health and stability. When we are out of balance, our physical reality reflects this in the way we deal with it. Currently, there are children who fear the woods, are told to never go outside without shoes, have never walked under a star lit sky looking for the big dipper. We expect 30 acres worth of biomass to appear in a bag in a drive through in less than a minute without a thought. Our standard of living and our numbers are so out of synch with the amount of energy consumed by other apex species that many of them are already gone, and many more are on their way out. Wolves, Tigers, Lions, Leopards, Jaguars, Cougars…they are lessons to the limits of carrying capacity on the landscape and what happens when the capacity is exceeded. Sadly, their demise may do little to stop what seems to be a runaway train. Folks seem helpless, just smart enough to realize the futility of “going green” or too frightened to explore the history and science of what happens to any species that overspecializes, overpopulates, or exhausts it’s “resources”. In the surviving oral tradition of cultures on every continent the “caretaker” attitude was ingrained in the young through the wisdom of the elders. The idea of living with the awareness that our actions effect the unborn future generations is evidenced in story, song, and legend. So too do stories about having a sense of appreciation and what happens when that appreciation for life sustaining components’ of the landscape is forgotten. Yet, we pattern on things that replace the hunt and the gather. We see no value in the ones who have gone before, they can’t even set the clock on the DVD player. We have turned our wisdom keepers in to cute and cuddly grandparent’s at the very best, and folks to be marginalized at the other end of the spectrum. Today it is hard to find a true Elder. We see a lot of folks at the end of their life, bitter that they worked so hard to “make a living” that they realize only at the end the gift of truly being alive and present. As a result, what was already hard to hear in the innocence and arrogance of youth, is impossibly drowned out by the technology we plug in to. We hear endless stories of tragedy and disaster on the news and then are told during each commercial break that we would only feel better if we bought “this” product. Look around, people are in debt and still buying the next item that will surely make them happy, fill the void, or provide the distraction from that certain annoying nagging on their conscience. Rare is the individual who is secure enough in his or her own identity to be able to sit alone without distraction, without T.V., music, or the Internet, and just quietly enjoy being present. Instead, we shop and work, not for our families directly, but for a person or people who have often-conflicting motivations and less than intrinsically rewarding goals. We come home too tired to a family too distracted by after school, extra meetings, the television, whatever, to sit and share stories around the table (modern version of the campfire) and just be present with each other. Our communities are dependent on distant communication rather than face to face exchanges. The results are institutionalized minds that perceive more out of fear, grief, or hopelessness rather than the heroes journey so common in our ancestral traditions. This is all part of the cycle of nations. It has a predictable ending, but only if the perceptions that perpetuate it continue. We know the consequences; we know the base existence of the survivors of these “decrescendos”. So why don’t we, the most intelligent (and humble) species to grace the Earth do something to prevent this formula from playing out again on an unprecedented scale? It’s not greed, or laziness. It’s brain patterning. We expect doors to be a certain width, burgers to taste a certain way, time to be at a certain pace and meter, routines to be regular and interruptions to be few and addressed quickly. When these things don’t happen, we feel uncomfortable. When the car doesn’t start, or the power goes out, or the cook gets our order wrong, we feel slighted, uncomfortable, wronged. We have become shackled to our conveniences. Without need, time, or familiarity, many have lost the hunger and skills to gather food from the landscape, and with that, the connection that landscape provided. A sense of purpose, belonging, and deep-rooted community is becoming a rare commodity. And we continue to attempt to fill the void with “stuff”. But don’t be sad, there is a way out….a way to break the cycle(and no this is not a sales or religious pitch). And, it’s free, it’s personal and it’s something you can share or keep to yourself. In fact, it starts with developing your own awareness and making a choice to commit to unplugging from “the Matrix” and reconnecting with what is real and important in your own life. It’s hard, but it’s always worth it. Remember, convenience kills. This will help as we explore some options in the next article.