Man vs Nature

Man vs Nature, and a lot of the time, it does seem like a fight. Fight for survival, fight against the elements, fight to preserve what we make. Fight for the right to party… not so much.

 

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I have traveled a lot both in my previous jobs, and for personal reasons. For almost three straight years I never spent more than a week in any one country. I went on tours as a tour guide, I went off by myself to explore cities older than my own country. I haggled with taxi drivers in a dozen languages. 

 

The one thing I take away after all these years an all these countries, that despite what most people think, despite what most travel books print on their covers, despite what many of us want to be true. We love the works of our own hands, far and above that of any work of nature.

 

There is something almost tangible about standing in front of the pyramids, or at walking through the ancient canyon city of Petra in Jordan. A lot of the time, its not even the fact that these places are especially amazing. Anyone who has walked a street in New York and then sees the pyramids tends to shrug and almost go “Is that it” for even though they were the tallest building for millennium, we have far surpassed them in the last century. 

 

But even so, the sense of history, the sense of human achievement. It is almost visceral feeling you get, the connection through time to our ancestors. 

 

And it is something that is completely lacking in nature. I have seen some amazing natural scenery, I am from what is considered to be one of the most beautiful countries in the world and have visited most of the other. But you get used to it very quickly, I was in Alaska once for 5 months, and was bored of the scenery after 2 weeks, as was every single other person at my firm of several hundred people. 

 

Nature seems to wear thin quickly, it is common place. Which is probably why we don’t mourn it very much when we bulldoze through the middle of it to build a highway or pipeline.

 

Where as our history, our creations through time… even the smallest of achievements of our ancestors millennia ago are revere now, where as mountains that took millions of years to rise are defiled for the ore they can give us. 

 

While I think we need to preserve nature and that it is a good an honorable goal to preserve and protect the nature.

 

I cant deny that on the list of most amazing things I have seen in my life, its a long way down the list before anything made by nature appears. 

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36 thoughts on “Man vs Nature

  1. Shows how different we can be. I have looked out at the same view of beach and sea and sky many times a day for several decades, now, and am still enthralled by it. I can’t think of any man-made work which would pass the same test. The closest would be some of the great works of music, and that isn’t looking!

  2. I think that take on nature vs man made comes down to a sense of we or I built that, whether now or thousands of years ago. It’s like witnessing incredible achievements whereas nature cannot always provide this feeling, it still has the power to blast away our senses with the naturalness of a feature, such as towering mountains or incredible waterfalls. Humans can recreate these but there’s always a veneer of artificiality but I guess sometimes that is what is impressive, the recreation of nature, but better, or grander, or improved somehow. Us humans love to create.
    Nice post.

    • Cheers!

      I think that is exactly it, sure our buildings may be 1/10000 the size, but WE built it. We designed it, got the material (from nature)m and shaped them to our will to build something beautiful and long lasting (hopefully).

      Humans share a collective pride in our species achievements that no amount of nature can compare to.

  3. That’s a pretty funny perspective and probably true for most people. Cool of you to admit it and call it out. I know a lot of people like to pretend they care about natural beauty, but what I’ve noticed is that what we often love it even more when nature resembles things we create ourselves–like natural bridges or rocks that look like faces. So it still comes back to us.

  4. Very nice post, although I must admit that the total opposite is the case for me. The man made structures that captivate me such as the pyramids is due to how well they’ve blended with nature over time. Recent structures look impressive but meh.

  5. You make some great points, and I have to admit that there are some pretty damned amazing man-made structures out there, but I will always be moved far more emotionally, spiritually and intellectually by the awesome power and beauty of nature.

  6. Nice post 🙂 but I’m the opposite, When I go on vacation I don’t want to see any signs of humans old or new. Its like its been tainted somehow. Though if it blends in nicely and doesn’t detract then its worth looking at. Otherwise give me the wild.

    • That seems to be the strong opinion! I guess I’m in the minority of Bloggers. But seeing the legacy of man is, for me, far more moving. So long as it is beautiful, man also makes a lot of crap 🙂

      • Everyone has different taste. The world wouldn’t be interesting if there wasn’t variety. 🙂

  7. “We love the works of our own hands, far and above that of any work of nature.” Deep thoughts indeed. I heard something like that from a conversation I had with an ant. She was marveling at her power to carry things so many times bigger than her, that she had nothing to envy from nature because she, such a tiny thing, could match nature’s power. I felt she was been a little bit show off. I thought stepping on her but…ah. I thought that the ant had missed the point: she was only looking through her own eyes.

    As you can see, I enjoyed your post. It moved me to write…something.

    I’ll be bak.

    • Your point is we can’t build as big as nature? Or that it arrogant to think ourselves better than nature. I see no problem marvelling at what man can do so long as we appreciate nature as well.

      • I don’t think I even have a point. You are right, there’s no problem in marveling….Your post simply made me think about how do animals ‘experience’ nature. Do they? As for us humans, it is in our genes to go back and forth between rightfully admiring nature’s awesome beauty and power and then marveling at the same thing in humans. It’s all a state o’mind. But you did expressed your beautifully and thoughtfully. You see what you did!

  8. My first response was, no way! Nature by far exceeds anything that man has done. I never tire of drinking in the natural world. Those ancient edifices are awe-inspiring because they are imbued with a yearning towards the infinite and they enhance rather than detract from their environs. Then I thought about my most amazing sight and it was an hour-long helicopter flight over Denali National Park. The perspective from the air of the bright green mountainsides melting down like icing amid the towering peaks is something that can only be appreciated from the air. So I’m moved to say that it is not the buildings of our species that I find inspiring but that we can fly and so change our perspective. Our world view is forever changed by seeing that image of our blue planet from space.

    • That is a very cool perspective, its not what you look at, but how. I got to say I did a hot air ballon ride over the desert in Jordan once and it was everything, the desert and the ancient towns that blended to create the image.

  9. Nature makes us feel small and human achievements that appear to defy Nature make us feel big or at least more significant. Animals are not separate from the environment and as a result have no need to dominate Nature. You could say they are the environment and part of an inevitable cycle that is in synch with how this planet operates. Humans have a tendency to act like aliens who have come to planet Earth to dominate. We are not animals and we are not aliens whatever our distant origins. We are however a fascinating species that is by nature self obsessed and so it is no wonder that you and many fellow humans find the human imprint more fascinating and significant. There have been people who have been forced to live in confined surroundings who have as a result discoverd worlds within a few square meteres of earth and sky. It’s time we started to feel at home here, to feel accepted and to accept. Thanks for this chance to ramble.

    • Interesting insight! Your comment on us being like aliens in our environment reminds me of the line from the first Matrix movie “Humans are like a virus, you appear, you infect, you consume, destroy, then move on” Maybe a bit extreme, but at least unlike a virus we also create.

      • I really think that we are meant to be here and I love our creativity. Feeling at home in the world as opposed to trying to claim bits of it is something that we can become more creative about. All the happenings and ideas that have brought us to this point are the building blocks but maybe we should see them as separate elements rather than rigidly stuck together with cement and choose those ‘bricks’ that will create structures that allow for more individual space and lightness.

  10. There was an article in a local newspaper (in Delhi) just last week that said that people living in Delhi travel thousands of miles to visit historical sites but rarely, if ever, visit some of the most amazing monuments in the neighbourhood. Qutab Minar, Humayun’s Tomb and Red Fort, spanning a period of 800 years, to name a few. What you say about nature, in my view, is more about familiarity breeding contempt, and not something against nature. People living in cold climates like to head towards the beach for a holiday. many people living in hot climates are fascinated by snow and mountains. And so on…

    • I agree with the familiarity point, I lived in New York for a few months, and on the first week I checked out all the big sites, but with in months I was bored of the Empire State and the rest. I knew people who lived there who had never been up since it wasnt special to them.

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