Time And Nature - The NaturalMedicine Manifesto Part 4

in #naturalmedicinelast year (edited)

An exploration of an emergent ethos

In this series of posts, we will explain the ground from which emerges the values and ethos that drives and sustains the NaturalMedicine community on Steem. This is the basis on which choices are made for creating and curating #naturalmedicine content. It draws on the models found in natural systems to create and establish creative, thriving, sustainable communities. As a whole, it forms a manifesto that the community draws on for inspiration, discussion, and inter-personal discovery.


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If you haven’t read Part 3 Natural systems — systems in nature we invite you now to read that first. Otherwise, please continue …

In the previous post we introduced the idea of Systems Theory and how nature can be seen to be a system by virtue of it having key features of a system. Continuing on this theme, we are going to discuss something about the dimension of time.

The concept of time is tricky; like God, beauty, and insurance no one can really adequately explain or define what it is in a way we can all agree on. The best I’ve come across is “wibbly-wobbly, timey-wimey stuff”. We can certainly observe and mark the passing of time, and we can witness the effects associated with it (e.g. entropy), but time itself cannot be held in our hands or even mastered (yet).

At first glance we could think that the progression of time is linear: the past is behind us, the future is before us, and we stand in an ever-present moment. However if you observe time in nature for long enough you see that many (if not all) life-forms in the natural world appear to follow a cyclical flow of time -- particularly so in the plant kingdom.

A seed sprouts, and once breaking through the soil begins growing through photosynthesis. It continues to grow and flourish, eventually bearing fruits and going to seed, which it drops and scatter before finally dying or going into a state of dormancy. The life-cycle then repeats itself. The cycle for plants follows the seasons and the climate, which is all based on Earth’s orbit around the Sun and its own axial rotation. Animals have a similar life-cycle, albeit in their own special way. It is the same cycle of birth, life, maturing, death, and re-birth (in the form of offspring which continue to carry the genetic data).

From the human perspective, time passes no differently, at a standard rate; we are obsessed with time. And yet seemingly, other life-forms in nature do not care to worry about it or pay it any attention. They continue to live out their lives and do what comes naturally. When it is time for the dormancy of winter, they go into the state required; when it is spring, the process of re-growth or awakening after hibernation begins. Nature adheres to the flow of time without any hurry or concern.

Have you ever tried to grow tomatoes in the middle of winter? You can certainly do it using a greenhouse, and maybe some special lights, or using hydroponic methods. But it requires extra resources and energy than were they to be grown when they would naturally grow.

Like many things in the natural world, humans have learned to transcend the normal boundaries of time. With electric lights we can change our circadian rhythms and function in the night. We can lager beer in the middle of summer using cooling vats and air-conditioning. We can even germinate seeds at any time of year, inducing them to sprout using artificial climate control systems and lights. Our civilisation is built on being able to what we want, whenever we want, and in the way we want.

Nature doesn’t quite work this way however; because it remains beholden to the natural flow of time. It seemingly has no concern with doing it differently, unless it needs to adapt to changes to its environment. Time is one of the feedback mechanisms which provides information of how a life-form has to behave in any given moment.

In the next post, we will look at the human being as a microcosm of a natural system.

Other posts in this series:

Part 1 What Is ‘Natural Medicine’?
Part 2 What does ‘natural’ mean?
Part 3 Natural systems — systems in nature
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