the combination of characteristics or qualities that form an individual’s distinctive character
Do animals have personalities? Most people would say that many have. But… what about weeds, trees, mountains, wind, bacteria, rocks? Do they have personalities too?
Every day I look at the mountains facing my living room, and every day they are different. They don’t move like humans, or talk like humans, or have eyes or mouths like us… and yet, they are alive. For many, this simple thought might be seen as ridiculous, a product of my imagination, an illusion of my eyes. Perhaps it is… perhaps it’s not.
However, personally, I don’t believe the mountains and trees facing my living room have personalities… I experience on my daily life that they have personalities, which is something quite different from simply believing it. You see, I am not a religious person. Perhaps spiritual is a better word, but still I prefer not to label myself. My background in science made me a critical person, and yet, I came to understand that science alone was not enough for me to truly understand and live on Earth. I had to experience her, come to know her personally, truly feel deep on my skin that I am family with the trees and animals and bacteria and rocks and stars. And so I decided that I would experience life on Earth – by observing carefully the small daily details, by spending time sitting on my balcony in silence and watch the leaves move with the gentle breeze or observe how the mountains change from brown in Winter to green in Spring or how the clouds caress their rocky tops. How dandelions colour our garden, how bees and beetles and ants and butterflies come alive and fill the air with their buzzing music, how birds sing and come greet us in unexpected ways.
To observe the same mountain ridge and the same trees every single day for almost a year has definitely been an eye-opener for me. I got to know them. A whole year on the same wild place means you can see and experience all seasons and their in-betweens. I’ve experienced many days and nights here, some hot and some very cold, some with full moon and others with a sky full of stars, some with strong wind and thunderstorms and some with no breeze at all… I’ve experienced the fig tree full of ripe figs and the fig tree completely naked. I’ve experienced the trees lush green and then completely naked and brown and covered in snow… and then green again. And the mountains… now the sky is cloudy and the mountains are dark and gloomy… but this very morning, they were bright and light green and breathtaking.
As I said before, all of these observations stand for nothing for many… they are not science, just observations, not enough to take conclusions. Besides that, how can we ever say something like “mountains have personalities”? Personalities are for people, and mountains are not people… right? Well… many indigenous peoples would disagree.
To become civilized has meant to divorce ourselves from the Earth and
what who sustains us. No indigenous person living in total dependence on Nature would ever divorce him/herself from who sustains him/her. Nevertheless, we can’t actually do that either, no matter what our society, technology and TVs have led us to believe. If we truly wish peace, abundance and a life in harmony with Nature, we definitely need to come back to our roots and once again get to know the land we live upon and the living beings with whom we share it. And for that, we need to open our eyes and observe, we need to experience life and give value to those personal experiences. To see other beings – animate or “inanimate” – as having personalities, and therefore consider them as people, opens a gateway to a completely different world from the one that we are used to live in. It completely dismantles the idea that subjects and objects exist. As Graham Harvey wrote: “All that exists lives” and “all that lives is worthy of respect”.
Once we change the way we perceive the world, there’s no way we can ever keep on believing what civilization and society have taught us since we were children: that we are separated from Nature and allowed to take and destroy as much as we
need want, whenever we please, without ever showing respect or paying back.