The Sacred Grove

The survival of wilderness — of places that we do not change, where we allow the existence of creatures we perceive as dangerous — is necessary. Our sanity probably requires it. These places function, whether we intend them to or not, as sacred groves — places we respect and leave alone, not because we understand well what goes on there, but because we do not.


This week my daughter has been creating some of the most unusual comic strips, bringing them to me and then giggling like crazy while I read them. I wonder what goes on in her brain as she weaves the tale of a glass of lemonade who falls so in love with Justin Beiber that she swallows him and then traverses life with his body plainly visible, floating in her liquid lemony depths.

I’ve been reading a lot of about creativity this year because I believe that the future of humans on this planet depends on it. Creativity is at the heart of resilience, allowing us even when we are at the depths of despair, to imagine something new. My curiosity has led me to some interesting websites and books. But even as I journey to some pretty fascinating places, places where I begin to “create and/or weave” some of my own theories, there is a part of me that wonders how far one should travel down this road.

The argument for why we need to understand how the brain works is strong. But as we go forward on this journey we continue to encounter more and more unknowns. Beyond each bit of knowledge we gain, there are a thousand more questions to be answered. So how far do we journey into the “wild”erness? I suspect this has been an enduring question for many generations that has done very little to curtail any type of exploration. And why should it? The universe whether journeying outward into space or inward into the depths of our brains is vast. Isn’t it?

I was rescued from the enduring question when I read about what was discovered through the mapping of the human genome. It appears our genes have been coded for randomness and the “switches” that could set off a particular order of events, can be just as random. It was never nature vs nurture, but nature and nurture. Natalie Angier of the New York Times has some fun with it here.

I suspect researchers will continue to try to identify all the “switches” as this journey into the complex nature of our brain and genes continues. But travel as we may, it is difficult to map a landscape that is constantly changing. So I think I will take some time out this summer, enjoy my backyard, restore some sanity as I contemplate the importance of the wilderness and giggle a bit as I imagine poor Justin Beiber floating in a glass of lemonade. I have no idea how he got there but I’m quite comfortable living with that little mystery.





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