It’s also hard to find or recognize something if you don’t know what search terms to use, what it’s called or anything about it. Searching requires curiosity and interest.
It’s about an intelligent and planned, strategic and enthusiastic way of looking for something. If you’re searching on a topic you know little or nothing about, you mug up first to get at least a basic understanding. This is often best done by asking your enquirer to explain more about what they are asking you to find as well as conducting some preliminary searching around the topic to get the best keywords.
The problem comes when, although the right names and descriptive words and clues are readily available, people are no longer interested or bothered to notice or know what things are called, so they don’t search and they don’t find and it’s a big loss. This video with the naturalist and author, Robert MacFarlane, illustrates the sadness of this. He and Jackie Morris have published a book called The Lost Words about the need for children (and adults) to spend more time interacting with the natural world.
It makes the point that more and more people no longer know what common birds and trees are called or how to identify them. This means they don’t notice what’s around them, or have that joy of realisation through identification. It means trees start to merge into one generic “thing” with a trunk, branches and leafy shapes. Birds are…just birds, with some variation in size and colour.
I feel very sad if we are really becoming less and less able to experience the pure joy of searching and finding plants and animals in the natural world. It’s a massive disconnect from nature and results in us valuing and understanding it less and enjoying it less. It often seems to me as if we don’t really think that we are an integral part of this world. Instead we are separate and nature is to be battled and subdued with weed killer, chainsaws and concrete and replaced with plastic grass because the real thing is soooo inconvenient. It’s a resource for us to plunder and exploit for what we judge to be our lifestyle needs (the Disruptive Searcher isn’t guiltless here, uses far more than she needs and yes, the conscience pounds and yes, she’s thinking about it and making changes to her life…but I’m sure she could do better!).
Why bother D.S.? Because wildlife and nature aren’t separate from us. We live alongside wildlife and in nature all the time. We depend 100% on the natural world for our survival and yet we are becoming blind to it and its gradual disappearance.
Oh, you can search with the best skills all you want, but year on year there’s less and less of the natural world to find.
We’re happier when we’re more in harmony with nature, numerous studies confirm it. Mental health is a huge issue, people say they’re lonely. More and more we’re told we’re on our own. That there’s no other planetary life but ours, no God of any sort any more (religion’s just a “fairytale”, eh, Richard Dawkins?) no obvious reason for our existence…so, no point? Eventually, we won’t be found either, for we’ll have ruined what we were given to live on and will cease to exist too.
Perhaps that’s what some of us ultimately want. We’re certainly heading that way, unless we start again to look around us, searching and finding out about the world we live in, joining those (like Robert MacFarlane) who treasure it. Then we’ll realise we’re not at all alone: there’s still most of a whole, beautiful world out there…for now.