Before a newborn gasps that first wakening shock of air in the world it never made, it’s as equipped to navigate its way toward its last sigh as it ever will be. While the physical body experiences further ripening and the ravages of aging as a matter of life’s course, it always carries with it what I call the “natural self,” the inborn genetic intelligence barely hinted at by having instinctually suckled its mother’s breast. Infancy is the final stage of a period begun at conception during which the child’s body is assembled, energized and introduced to the world and completed when it learns to feed itself. How guided by its own genetic intelligence parents allow this development to be for the child is the most important factor in its maintaining contact with its natural happiness, its “good nature” throughout its journey through all the external influences it will encounter on the path of the rest of its life.
This inborn genetic intelligence is an underlying ability to find metaphors in nature for any situation encountered and is limited only by lack of previous experience with the idiosyncrasies of operating a new body in such new local temporal and spatial conditions as it may find. The senses supply this intelligence with information that is digested as metaphors for other remembered natural processes or, failing that, routed to the modern brain to be pigeon holed in a warehouse of unfamiliar, curious anomalies whose accumulation requires constant rearranging in an attempt to find metaphors for artificial phenomena that are either irrelevant or opposed to nature. This conscious, purposeful system of intelligence, whose circuits of logic and reason are forever undergoing urban renewal just to maintain the illusion of understanding in public and the mirror, is like the impermeable cover of a mall parking lot over once absorbent earth in the way it diverts ones attention from beholding the big picture of universal nature underlying the arbitrary, tautological concerns of the local morality.
Q: “What’s wrong with pot?”
A: “It’s against the law”
I witnessed a good, law abiding, American couple, who were old enough to be on that trip they’d promised themselves after the kids were off to school, while they timidly scored, ineptly rolled and luxuriously smoked their first joint in a coffee house in Amsterdam. Individual curiosity obediently awaited the permission no one had any right to deny.
Considering the natural life span of a species compared to its period of infant dependency, primates tend their children for a much longer portion of their lives than other animals, although anthropologists like to insert childhood as a separate parent-dependent stage on top of infancy in the case of humans to give them time to “process society.” They explain this evolved childhood period as a reason for human survival since mothers could reproduce two to three times more rapidly when infancy didn’t include nursing throughout. One of the more interesting theories holds that not only is society especially, genetically enabled for humans but made inescapable by the genetic evolution of love due to “our immediate predecessor, Childman Australopithecus” who’s examples of motherly love during this extended infancy were teaching genes that now make us selfless despite ourselves.
For myself, I see this extended childhood dotage to be a result of parents, themselves mired in the perplexing artificialities of society, being more concerned with protectively passing their confusion on than with giving their child’s inner sense any validity whatsoever: "Son, I'm gonna give you all the things I never had: I never had the good sense to think responsibly for myself and have believed every thing I was told as if it were gospel. And when I'm done raisin' you, you won't have it either."
The period during which modern man might remain in infancy can encompass his entire life, never having actually ever fed himself. Institutions like churches, governments, schools and armies are packed to the gills with these extended infancy children, whose activities are as guided by a search for continued funding as any desire for universal understanding, dedicated to having their opinion be regarded as the latest word by the poor dumb cluck that just cooked and fed them a cheeseburger or fixed and flushed their plumbing. The short order cook and the plumber, although able to feed themselves and know where their shit goes are no less isolated from their natural selves by their addiction to their prosthetics for locomotion, imagination, emotional manipulation and personality enhancement. Modern society in the United States and increasing areas of the rest of the world appears to be a cultural day care center for codependent vacuums making and selling products out of and to each other in craft class teaching pride in pleasing others for profit as depicted in a movie by Walt Disney starring Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy.
Rare people who have miraculously maintained or diligently reestablished touch with their natural selves don’t worry about the refrigerator. Curiosity about the reliability of the light inside doesn’t hold a candle to the brilliant spontaneity within the unpremeditated, unasked answer of now, morphing in the chaotic confluences of nature’s serendipity — so invisible to the focused search, so obvious to the fully opened eye.
The incident which gave me the phrase “genetic memory” occurred when a friend handed me a rock he’d just found while walking along the bank of the Pedernales River. After a slight adjustment in my initial grip I experienced an epiphany that, ever so sublimely, shook me to my core. I’d long relied on my gut feeling or instincts to inform me rather than taking anyone’s word for anything, but until that ancient tool nestled into my palm as comfortably, as righteously as it did, I might never have made the instinct-memory connection. Not only did it make me realize what it was, it made me look around for a hide to scrape to check its efficiency.
When all is said and done, the difference between humans and other animals comes down to self-reliance. I recognized this when I first encountered the religion of school mates, never having had any religious exposure until then. I have never forgotten the two statements my parents advised me to heed for happiness in my life: “Treat others as you would be treated,” and “This above all: to thine ownself be true, And it must follow, as the night the day, Thou canst not then be false to any man.” It seemed extremely frustrating to need to consult scripture to know what to do at every turn and just as ridiculous to feel guilty for thoughts and acts that effected no one else. This realization has been building poignance over a lifetime of encounters with the arbitrary, artificial regulations being handed down in greater volume than anyone can keep abreast of by a culture that cannot grasp the golden rule, from religious commandments to government regulations perpetuating themselves with ever more invasiveness into the privacy of “flawed sinners” deemed to be incapable of personal morality. I’m not speaking of just the “felons, idiots and paupers of the state” to which voting rights are denied, — every person on the planet is the target for a preemptive strike on our potential unruliness, no benefit of the doubt. If this statement seems to be an exaggeration, consider that the most common source of human misery, more than poverty, illness and death, concerns our inability to have things go as intended in our own behavior and in the behavior of those on whom we depend. We attempt to remedy this grief by getting better at planning our future by tightening the control on our behavior and choice of more reliable friends rather than loosening up, listening to the grass grow and smelling how the wind blows for answers in an eternal present inadmissible to people trying to predict or manipulate a future that never comes or analyze or atone for a past that never leaves.
The human condition is such that, as much as we may feel put upon by the expectations of bureaucracies and friends, we don’t hesitate to do the same thing to them as if the golden rule were a chain we can push, excusing ourselves by sugarcoating it with an investment our faith, trust, belief, and hope as if making a friend capable of disappointing us is a blessing we've bestowed upon them and a sacrificial burden we've taken on in their behalf. Shit happens. And until we learn to harmonize with the happenstance of the moment through our instinctual genetic memory, all our life is geared to making nature either behave or leave the room and she’s just not gonna do it. The most direct expression for this conflict I’ve ever come across I learned in Thermodynamics class; entropy. If there’s ever been a physical metaphor for the religious and secular intent it’s the scientist and engineer attempting to codify and thereby capture nature’s chaotic processes for use as our improved prostheses and security blanket, while our connection to our true source of a naturally healthy, happy life languishes beneath our atrophy and apathy.
From the simple standpoint of energy investment and conservation it makes sense that, in a natural world capable of manifesting the entire spectrum of the human imagination and beyond, those actions born of love and benevolent good will are positively beneficial and those motivated by hate and jealous covetousness drain the energy of all those affected by them, most profoundly the actor. The choice is not any more an ambiguous morality crisis than recognizing a stomach ache from bad food, but, like the man who never learned to feed himself, preferring to blame the cook. Man has developed a system of externalizing the source of negative events in the body of a devil pulling puppet strings of we poor souls having to bear the inescapable helplessness of original sin rather than own up to the reality of karma as he mindlessly reaps what he sews and blames the weather and the human condition for the discomfort he feels over his own meanness. Modern civilization is the natural form of the coagulation of such shucking of personal responsibility, tacitly admitting anyone who knows not to speak the silent password of the lie and harshly banishing to prisons, asylums and ghettos the heretics who can’t help but see the nudity of the emperor.
Believing ourselves so innocent, flawed, helpless and in such need of guidance by external dictates we completely deplore and ostracize individuals who have managed to awaken from the dream of nap-time to glimpse society from the outside, in the context of its relationship to its only source of true nurturing: its habitat and realize the possibilities of man to leave the day care center and become true adults responding to the symbiosis enjoyed by all the creatures of the planet.