Some of the most interesting and insightful humans in the world are mathematicians. And, I’m speaking here from a place of mystique more than intimate knowledge, I think that some of the coolest things that humans have crafted throughout the ages are mathematical formulas.
The fun thing about formulas is the variables. And also the symbols. And ultimately the narrative they tell together. Let’s be honest, math is just all around awesome. Like our favorite films and the most lasting instances of theatre, oration, and authorship: Math tells us a story about relationships. Math is moving.
Now of course the meaning of life can not be distilled into a simple formula… is what you would expect me to say as a trained theologian with a poetic disposition and an appreciation for the wondrous and unknowable elements of existence! But, surprise, here it is, the formula for a meaningful life:
You + Wild Nature = Purposeful and lasting contribution to the World.
Alright, let’s discuss the variables.
You: This is who and how you are at a given moment, this moment for instance. This variable is dynamic. There’s a steadiness to it, but it fluctuates. It’s comprised of a whole ecology of thoughts, feelings, sensations, and responses to the immediate environment. It’s you, the mammal that you are, concerned with meaning, here and now.
Wild Nature: This is the interdependent web of life and death; the arena of wrestling and resting; the dynamic current that drives all existence. And at the same time (watch out now!) it is the hearty, soul-level stuff in you that corresponds with the stuff that drives all existence. It is the variable where identity dwells, where instinct and urgency reside.
World: This is all the stuff you care about. It’s also all the stuff other people care about, especially people without an exorbitant amount of power. This variable is comprised of the collective concern of the human populace.
What it takes to foster and sustain a meaningful contribution to the world is holding these variables in dynamic equilibrium. We do this by tending to the ways they relate to each other. We do this by experimenting with symbols that bind and connect. We do this by employing practices that prompt the variables of you and wild nature to be in relationship.
Alright, enough math for now: What’s one way today that you can practice your relationship with wild nature?