If you gaze up at the night sky with the naked eye and catch a glimpse of Jupiter, it would appear simply to be a  solitary bright object high above. But if you were to take an amateur back yard telescope and train it on the same planet, you would discover four moons on a parallel plain surrounding the planet. If you had access to a professional large-scale observatory you would enlarge that view to include twelve moons.

The conclusions we reach about the measure of reality thus becomes changed by depth and scope of additional aids to our vision, and it would soon become evident that things are not always as they seem. In fact, just because something is invisible at first, does not mean that it does not exist.

Nietzsche once said: ” the strongest ties are the invisible ones.”  This is typically true of many things in nature, especially that long-established recognitions by native people’s and ecologists, that all things in the world are interconnected. We might not see how all things are tied together,  but invisible threads do unite everything in natures web. Thus, when something happens to something else, everything is affected by the ripple. Nothing stands alone and can totally escape an impact,  no matter how small it might be.

Many things in nature can be correlated with other things. That is, anything can be correlated to some degree with any other thing. Why? Because everything is connected, rather we can see by how or what those ties might be, they are still there in some form.

A maternal instinct that ties mother to child is held together  by the bond of love. What is love? It is a thread, though perhaps not visible by any man-made means, but very real, all the same.  The thread is invisible to the eye, but can be felt by the heart.  The same can be said of romantic relationships, and many other emotional ties that humans experience during their life time. Human nature is just a part of natural nature.

In my world, this time of year is when I spend time steelhead guiding. When fishing, getting a line in front of fish for a potential bite, is the name of the game. While those lines may be hard to see, sometimes even invisible, they are still real. In fact, to a fish it  can mean the difference between life or death.

Why are unseen connections such an important principle of natural law?  Because it means that what we do as an individual or community, does matter.  It is the foundation for taking personal responsibility for our own actions. The significance of this might best have been described by  Chief Seattle: “Humankind has not woven the web of life. We are but one thread within it. Whatever we do to the web, we do to ourselves. All things are bound together. All things connect.”

So it becomes relevant that we might also take a lesson from Zen: “the frog does not drink up all the water in the pond in which it lives.” This might be a more  philosophic way of applying one of the most basic laws of science:  Conservation of Energy. It says that  energy  cannot be created or destroyed, it can only be changed from one state to another. Fundamentally, the idea of paying attention to how man impacts (potential change) natural resources became the basis for the concept of “Conservation” and “Environmentalism.” It is the “change” part that we must pay close attention to.  Converting winter grounds for deer and elk to subdivisions for trophy homes, to  draining wetlands for farming, or shopping centers, everything we do matters. Our actions cause change.  However, nature cares not, as good or bad is always a human value judgement. The problem is  that  often  the good for a few , is bad for the  many.

Oil spills in the Gulf is a good example of this, yet some politicians and social pressures continue to fight for still more drilling there, as well as more  pipeline plans  to accommodate yet more extraction of the same energy sources that lead to climate change in a man-made negative way. All this ignorance of collective history,  rather  than to search for cleaner, safer alternative energy resources to invest in for the future, comes at a perilous cost.

Why does this matter to me, a simple river guide? I use wooden boats, and motor vehicles to escape into the river world to leave all my cares behind.  I still depend on extraction of natural resources to get me into areas left in their natural state. So,  escapism is a relative term. We can’t really escape from ourselves, no matter where we go. But we can find places to enjoy enough solitude to allow ourselves time enough to slow down and examine more closely our inner workings and who we are.

When we travel to the river to get away, we are still tied to the outside world by those invisible threads that binds all things together in one way or another. One web, but many strands. When people come to the river, they soon get connected to all kinds of invisible ties. They don’t leave them at home or get disconnected.

Often people on trips ask me what I do for a living in the real world?  As if my job is happening in an unreal world, I ask them to explain what they mean by real. It is easy for people to lose sight of these minute connections that bonds everything together in the one world we all share.  But it also brings home to me, how important it is to maintain the integrity of the ever shrinking wild places, because they allow us a crucial  place to temporarily escape and have a chance to  smell the flowers.  With enough time for  slowing  down,  we might catch up to our run-away selves,  so we can  ponder the question of rather we should leave the flowers alone, or pick them  all for a slow death in a vase. A conservationist would say leave a few flowers for a seed source.  A native elder might remind us about the importance of doing things during our life time with respect to how it will impact the “Seventh Generation.”

We might not see the invisible hand of nature, but it is very real, all the same. If we don’t want to get spanked, then we better  pay close attention to our own actions.

For more river trip information, please go to our website: www.doryfun.com

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Rivers make good medicine with us, we make good medicine with rivers.