Do You Choose to Opt Out?

As we de-link ourselves from nature, as we de-link ourselves spiritually from these animals, we lose hope, we lose that spiritual connection, our dignity, that thing within us that keeps us connected to the planet. -Dereck Joubert, Life Lessons from Big Cats, TEDWomen Conference, December 2010

If you aren't aware of TED and TEDTalks yet, then you've been missing out. And you must be living under a rock. TED is a non-profit group that brings together talented people who have "ideas worth sharing" for TED's annual conferences. These people can be scientists, bloggers, writers, entertainers, activists, physicists, or whatever, and they get up and give a 10- to 20-minute talk about their projects/passions/programs. The folks at TED believe that "ideas change lives" and they make these talks available on their website. For free. How cool is that? So when I'm feeling the need to learn something new, or simply the need to get out of my own head for a while, I make my way over to and listen to a talk or two.

The most recent one I watched was given at the TEDWomen conference by documentary filmmakers Beverly and Dereck Joubert who use their films and stellar photography for conservation efforts to save big cats in Africa. The talk itself isn't extraordinary, I've heard better, more interesting, and more creative messages on conversation before, but there were two tiny moments in their talk that really took my breath away. The first was the quote above. This idea that we are naturally linked to the earth was such a beautiful one. With no effort or action or thought on our part, we are connected to something so much bigger than us, so much more powerful than us. I've always felt like I had to ask permission to part of nature and that couldn't be farther from the truth (but that doesn't preclude me from being gracious and showing my gratitude). In fact, just the opposite is true. The only thing that can "de-link" us from nature is ourselves. We have to "opt out," if you will, of this gift and too many people are doing this with reckless abandonment, which ultimately and unfortunately, impacts those of us who chose to embrace our natural connection.

The second stunning moment happens around the 10:25 mark when the leopard they are filming does something that blows me away. I think the talk is worth the full 17 minutes of your life, but if you don't have that kind of time right now, just skip to 10:25 and be prepared for some of the most touching, compassionate, and mind-boggling 2 minutes of your life. Actually, it shouldn't be mind boggling. If there's one thing I've learned in my 40 years on this planet, it's that we are unable to fully grasp what nature is capable of. We try to compartmentalize, identify, categorize, comprehend it...but when we do that, we de-link ourselves from it. And that's the problem. Just sit back and watch what happens and you'll feel that very something that embodies our innate link to nature.

[ted id='1039']