Humanity is exalted not because we are so far above other living creatures, but because knowing them well elevates the very concept of life. E.O. Wilson, 1984

11 May 2012

Elemental Memories: An innate link

For a long time I thought that the satisfaction brought from the smell of woodsmoke came from childhood memories, but I have come to theorise that this innate feeling of contentness comes from further beyond. Not unlike deja-vu, the same sensation of joy comes with the feel of the air just before a spring storm, and the sound of rain under a tent. To me, these are sensations which harken back to the days when humanities detachment from nature was less pronounced. Then, the presence of the elements fire, wind and rain were of much greater significance, and the signals of a cooked meal, the ending of a drought or the satisfaction of a robust shelter were of higher importance.

Is it possible that along our evolutionary pathway, a mental state of satisfaction has developed which corresponds to a long since depleted valuation of protection from the uncertainties of the wilderness? At the same time, does the response of wonder upon entry into a cathedral reach out to our primitive ancestry amongst the trees? In essence, do we inherit the memories of our ancestors via a genetic basis? By spending time amongst these elements, then, we not only connect with the present but reach out to our intrinsic link with our past, when nature and man were one.