We are in the fullest sense a biological species and will find little ultimate meaning apart from the remainder of life.
— E.O. Wilson, Biophilia

Black-throated Green Warbler ...lookin' atcha!

100,000,000,000,000  - The # of bacterial cells in your body. (~100 Trillion)

10,000,000,000,000  - The # of You cells in your body. (~10 Trillion)

7,124,543,962  - The # of people living on Earth. (~7 Billion)

500,000,000  - The # of empty parking spaces in the US at any given time. (~500 Million)

8,126,026  - The # of housing units in New York. (houses, apt's, etc) (~8 Million)

>20,000  - The # of plant & animal species in New York. (~20 Thousand)

10,000  - The # of acres of forest, woodland, wetland & marsh in NYC. (>10 Thousand)

480 -  The # of minutes people sit each day at a desk job.

476  - The # of threatened & endangered plant species in New York.

88  - The # of threatened & endangered fish & wildlife species in New York.

30  - The # of minutes of mountain time I need before I even start to become a whole person again.

1  - You.  Me.  One person in the world, of seven billion.


Every time you or I walk outside, we are one individual life, of one prolific species among thousands of other species right out the back door (or gajillions if you count bacteria & archaea).

To some, this may seem meaningless.  To others, daunting.  I find this thought comforting.

Kayaking the Hudson River

Being small sets me free.  I don't have to be in charge (because I'm not), or "succeed," because success is meaningless while you're kayaking down a river.  And in fact, I don't have to do anything at all.  Outdoors, away from the built environmentif left undisturbedlife maintains itself

Being small connects us to a whole world of small things.  Millions of years of evolution has produced an array of exquisite wildlife that we easily pass by while thinking of our lives as very big and importanton our way to meetings, to run errands, or to relax with friends.  But if we stop and smell the roses, so to speak, we may also notice the aphids munching on the leaves, or the ladybugs munching on the aphids, or the spider that is stalking the ladybugs, or the sparrow in the next bush over eying the spider.  We are never alone, but always part of a much bigger community.

Blue-eyed Mary awaiting a friendly pollinator visit

Being outdoors not only connects us to nature, but also gives us a better perspective of our place in the world.  That is not to say that a single, small individual cannot be very powerful; rather that this perspective helps us to more fully realize our power.

The world-famous, Harvard Professor Emeritus, twice Pulitzer Prize-winning scientist and "father of sociobiology," E.O. Wilson, made the bold claim that 

to the degree that we come to understand
other organisms, we will place a greater value on them, and on ourselves.

I am inclined to agree. Are you?



Written by Kali Bird.

E.O. Wilson quotes from the book Biophilia, p.81 &2, respectively.  Numeric sources are hyperlinked. Photos by Kali Bird.