Wild by Nature

Posted by 
in General
05 January 2010

Recently I took my family for vacation to Costa Rica. As we were driving through the winding, narrow, sometimes paved sometimes not so much, mostly cloud shrouded roads, as we were taking in the raw beauty of the wilderness reigning large in this rough country, it occurred to me –

as happens to me every time I leave this country for another - that we here in the western, industrialized and modern world live a certain life and too often forget that there are many others living a very, very different lifestyle. What impressed me is how nature at its wildest seems so orderly in its chaotic ways, compared to the order, conventions, rules and cause-effect behavior of things which we have come to expect in the world of technology and techno sales. The seeming contrast is dramatic: as we sailed gently down a Nero river and I was observing the lush trees and vegetation on the river bank. One hundred year old tree was being undermined by the river itself, slowly beating on its root foundation, slowly eating away as the earth which has held the roots of this tree for the past few decades, the tree was now leaning over at a scary angle threatening to find itself entirely immersed in the river water after the next 2-3 rain seasons. But as it was now only partially immersed in the water, other brushes and unidentified local flora wasted no time in taking root right on top of the aging tree’s trunk, quickly perpetuating the cycle of wild life without any intervention. Just the normal, wild cycle of the older giving room to the newer, the once strong making way for the growing-strong. And all in a very natural manner which I found myself understanding and accepting without any question. Similar behaviors could be seen everywhere in the animal kingdom as well: the howling monkey atop his tree overlooking his growing family, screaming his abnormally loud and scary howl (turns it this is the 7th loudest animal observed in nature per National Geographic metrics) once his own son grows to be a threat and running him off and away to find and build his own family. There was the stealthy Cayman – a close and small relative to the alligator – barely visible to the unsuspecting birds flocking to the waters’ edge to sip some acrid water after downing some local fish. The linchpin was the sloth. An animal so evolved it needs only 2 toes (he lesser evolved has 3)  to do nothing all day and night but sleep in the tree top for some 20 hours a day, somehow feeding itself just enough to survive and even find time to reproduce. All of this was the wildest I’d ever observed nature, in all its beauty and glory, brutality and mystique. I got to thinking how readily I’m willing to accept this raw wilderness on its terms as perfectly normal and natural – clearly there was no apparent “logic” or reasoning to the way every inch of the jungle floor was covered with something growing or crawling on it in no systematic pattern. The animals of all species were living in a complete mix as if the zoo had opened all cage doors and simply let everyone out to play in the central courtyard area. Total chaos was the only ruling logic.
Back in my routine environment if anything were to even slightly deviate from its “place” it would have immediately looked suspect at the very least. In business we expect a certain outcome for a given action – after all this is what macro and micro economics teach us. In sales management we behave nicely to our customer realizing that through this behavior the customer will be happy with us and thereafter buy more from only us. But how often has this pattern been broken? And when it breaks, how surprised we are, insulted even, vindictive sometimes, all the while being mystified by the irrational behavior of this unnaturally behaving customer. And how about that colleague you thought was a straight shooter and you find yourself one day staying behind where he was just promoted? Why didn’t he mention anything? Why is she getting the position you could have done so much better? Is this proper etiquette? Is this natural and normal or is this him breaking the rules and expectations? Are we not more evolved than this that we behave like creatures of the wilderness?
I thought of the 100 year old (sometime literally, always figuratively) corporations that are the foundations for so many other, smaller spin off and ancillary businesses that sprung out of the rotting decay of this now leaning-in-the-stream trunk? The roots stuck in the earth of an aging economy and social structure, while the top most branches are trying to adapt to the new winds blowing in the digital era, the new world power structure. The more I thought of this as I was burning myself crisp in the tropical sun floating down that river, the more I realized that the laws of nature which are so blatantly in command in that surrounding, still very much rule our world even if we don’t remember it, or try and defy, define and deny it. Look around your microcosm and tell me you don’t see the sloths of your office, the silent and canny Caymans or the howler monkeys – all huffy and puffy and territorial simply because they well louder. Scan the business landscape and tell me you cannot recognize the 100-year old companies crumbling at the base, the newer ones growing straight out of their massive trunks, and the creeping vines that always seem to know, or find out, where the next rays of light will be coming from so they may be the ones that climb to the forefront of the canopy. Bear in mind that no matter how much progress we make, how many rules we apply and laws we pass, how often we are caught off guard by something or someone not responding as expected, maybe we can take a more natural look at this seeming abnormality and realize that after all is said and done, we are no more advanced and not much different than other most eternal and natural beings and that our modern society and the wilderness observed on the riverfront are really mere reflections of each other.        

Last modified on Thursday, 14 January 2010 13:36