Dangle a little human stupidity in front of me and I pounce. I’m like a cat. Wiggle a catnip mouse in front of kitty and she’ll attack every time. She’s hard-wired that way. Same with me. Human stupidity is my catnip mouse. I must pounce. I’m not mean. It’s just my nature.
Recognizing this, a reader emailed me a CNN.com story about some Avatar fans mired in depression because after seeing the movie, plain old life just doesn’t cut it anymore.
On Naviblue, an Avatar fan website, one person posted, “Ever since I went to see ‘Avatar’ I have been depressed. Watching the wonderful world of Pandora and all the Na'vi made me want to be one of them. I can't stop thinking about all the things that happened in the film and all of the tears and shivers I got from it. I even contemplate suicide thinking that if I do it I will be rebirthed in a world similar to Pandora and the everything is the same as in ‘Avatar.’”
Another fan posted, "When I woke up this morning after watching Avatar for the first time yesterday, the world seemed... gray. It was like my whole life, everything I've done and worked for, lost its meaning. It just seems so... meaningless. I still don't really see any reason to keep doing things at all. I live in a dying world."
And right about now, you’re waiting eagerly for me to pounce, sink in my fangs and rip the underbelly out of this nonsense with my hind claws, right? I know my email pen-pal was. Oooh, this is gonna be great!
Erm… sorry to disappoint. My reaction to these depressed, disillusioned Avatar-philes wasn’t to shred them to bits. Nope, think I’ll just curl up nearby and purr the heavy energy away. Because that’s also my nature.
Here’s the thing: On the surface, these people are dismayed because they can’t live in the beautiful fantasy world of Pandora. Which, of course, is ridiculous. But let’s peel back the surface and see what’s swirling around underneath.
These Avatar fans are experiencing a longing… a homesickness. But they don’t really know for where, or what, or why. They just know it’s there. And they’re erroneously attaching that longing to the movie.
Forget the movie. It’s not about the movie. It’s something much deeper in the psyche, in our collective unconscious. Avatar isn’t merely a computer animation masterpiece, or a fairytale about big blue cat people, or Dances With Wolves meets Star Wars. Avatar is an allegory. It’s a reflection of what’s really taking place, right here, right now: Through our own immense greed and short-sightedness, humankind is destroying the very thing it cannot survive without -- Mother Earth. If she dies, she takes us with her.
Once upon a time, our ancestors were intrinsically connected to Mother Earth. They were aware of the seasons so they knew when to plant and when to pull up stakes and move before the snow came. They looked at the stars to navigate, knew how to sit quietly and ensnare a rabbit, and pushed seeds into the soil that they knew would grow into plants and sustain them. Being one with the ecosystem was the key to survival.
Fast-forward a few thousand years, and we have very little connection to the earth at all. We go from house to car to cubicle and back to cars and houses, and get up and do it all again tomorrow, over and over and over for a lifetime, and the only green thing we’re aware of is that ever-elusive dollar dangling at the end of the stick. Unless we make conscious effort, the only awareness we have of our environment is to grumble when it’s too hot and grouse when we have to open our umbrellas.
But somewhere in our cellular memory, we know something’s missing. We have a spiritual déjà-vu while standing on the beach, absorbing the dull, pulsing roar of crashing waves, and feeling the breeze in our hair. We stare up at the full moon on a warm summer night and feel an ancient connection to… something. We’re walking down a trail and a butterfly flutters onto a leaf inches from our shoulder and we dare not exhale lest we break the spell. We know. But we don’t really know why.
There once was wonder and awe to daily existence, and that wonder and awe is in our genes. Our DNA knows it, and we carry the same DNA in our cells as our ancestors who knew that the crisp scent of golden wet leaves meant it was time to move on. We stare up at the very same moon they gazed upon, struggling to grasp what it all means and where we fit.
At the genetic level, we ARE our ancestors, and connectivity to Mother Earth is our collective origin. We are all the offspring of ancestors who were connected to their environment because, quite simply, those who weren’t died. We carry the DNA of the survivors, who connected to their ecosystems.
Our DNA remembers, but our brains struggle. We have a fuzzy, nebulous longing, hovering at the edge of our consciousness, just out of reach. Although we can’t quite remember, the cellular memory of our connection to Mother Earth can be triggered, as can the grief over our separation from her.
That’s what Avatar was for some people – a memory trigger. But they think it’s Pandora they long for. It’s not. It’s Mother. And she’s still here, if you know where to look.