Everything is related, always. There is no end to this, and no beginning. It simply is.New Trails, by Jody Norman
The world is random, purposeless, with no meaning. Nothing that happens matters, and nothing is connected. Everything is linear.
“Intelligence, order, purpose, and design are illusions; underneath it all is merely a purposeless jumble of forces and masses…. The universe is at bottom blind and dead…. The only purpose of life is simply to live, to survive and reproduce…” The Story of SeparationThe More Beautiful World Our Hearts Know Is Possible, by Charles Eisenstein
This is how our mechanistic, reductionist worldview describes reality, and for a long, long time, it’s how we’ve structured our lives, our work, our institutions. We’ve separated everything, focusing on the parts rather than the whole. We’re still struggling to move past this understanding in many ways. Our schools often structure themselves around subjects and disciplines, studying each separately, while we conceptualize our workdays as separate from our living — childcare interrupts work, not the other way around.
“Working nine to five, what a way to make a living…”“9 to 5,” song by Dolly Parton
Our urban landscapes are separated into zones of different uses, which is sometimes useful and sometimes not — did you know that raising crickets for consumption is rated as an industrial use and must be situated within that district, placing strict constraints on that business? Not to mention the difficulties of raising healthy crickets in a place committed to unhealthy means of production?
And our roadways are laid out as a vision of mechanical conveyor belts, attempting to create the same dry efficiency that factories allow.
This set of assumptions regulates our living, and our beliefs about how that living is structured. And our science does this, too, separating geology and biology — never mind that the lives of animals and insects and birds and all the rest of the diverse species of our planet are informed by both these structures. Astronomy and anthropology and cosmology are intimately connected — which ancient peoples haven’t been impacted by the stars? And so on. The science of today ignores many synchronicities and connections, since reality is considered random. And whatever the gains of this approach — and there have been many — it is no longer seen as true. Not by systems theory, not by quantum dynamics.
“The idea that everything is separate from everything else is the biggest reason that the world is the way it is today, and the greatest obstacle to the rapid expansion of human potential.”Essential Path: Marking the Daring Decision to Be Who You Truly Are
So here’s our choice — to see the world as a disconnected set of elements, where nothing has any meaning but our own self-interest, where materialistic gain is the only activity worth pursuing, and where the insistent drumbeat of girls and women protesting oppression in Iran, or the brutal war forced on Ukraine by Putin, or the suffering of those seeking equity (think people of color, or LGBTQ+ — especially trans folks, or Indigenous Peoples, or Muslims, or other like groups) do not matter. The world does not matter, either — not climate change, or deforestation, or biodiversity loss, or anything else of that sort.
Or we can choose to see the world as a connected whole, systemic rather than linear, thoughtfully cooperative rather than carelessly competitive, synchronistic rather than random. And the Earth is our home, to steward and protect and restore. Ravens and buffalo and butterflies, snow leopards and wolves and porcupines — they’re all seen as family.
Patterns matter. Interconnections matter. How these play out across time and space matter. And how we understand them, and work with them, matters, too.
“The science is beginning to confirm what we have intuitively known all along: we are greater than what we have been told. We are not just a skin-encapsulated ego, a soul encased in flesh. We are each other and we are the world.”The More Beautiful World Our Hearts Know Is Possible, by Charles Eisenstein
I chose to create a world based on the second vision, not the first. The understanding that everything is in relationship, always, is the first Guardian precept of my novels, and that recognition undergirds everything in the New Trails series, from the way communities are structured to people’s relationship with nature to their work with each other. I can’t claim perfection in this — I’m of this world, and I’m learning to see these connections, too, but I consciously try to stay present to this set of realizations in my writing, and hopefully it offers a story that my readers can appreciate.