Lessons about Nature Learned from the River

Biomimetics is the science of producing technology that mimics nature, brought about because science has long recognized that nature already holds the answers it’s members seek. Like building ship hulls by recreating the structure of shark’s skin, science is the student and nature is the teacher. But nature is more than a teacher of just engineering, it can also teach us how to live without ruining our environment. If we can be humble enough, we may be able to find answers to help the world, our world, be a better place. But where do we look?

One place I find that can help anyone reconnect with what is important is the river. A river is a bustling world all of it’s own, perfectly supported and perfectly run when left alone.

A river’s body is made up of billions of droplets of water supporting countless organisms. Every drop is a city within a city. But yet, what a difference. In these cities there is no polluting or wasted resources. Just self-containment in harmony with each other. Byproducts of lives lived in these drops of water do not contaminate neighboring drops of water. What we learn is that it is wrong to create products that our environment cannot absorb and re-purpose.

When I consider that every being, organism, and microorganism contributes to the body of the river in both it’s life and death, and in how it eats, I am awed at the structure. No organism takes too much and gives too little. There are no laws that govern the tadpoles or fishes but yet in the absence of greed, there is plenty to go around. Can we simply strive to consume less, and do more? Can we teach our children to do the same?

The river also teaches an important lesson in regards to our attitude. In every square inch of river water there is life and yet even in the most wild and busiest parts by the river, I can be lulled to sleep by the gentle waters lapping the shore. In the presence of such dignity and power without ego, I am reminded that no one is above anyone else. I am grateful to share in the presence of others and promise myself to be gentle while still being a productive member of society.

Learning from nature cannot just be the job of the scientists anymore. The realization that too few are not doing enough has got to come to all of us and changes have to be made in our habits and choices. Each individual must do their part in working harmoniously with our Earth and with other members of society. The education is there for all of us if we are willing to be the students.