Several times, when discussing the books from the Last Planet Chronicles people asked if I was a buddhist, taoist, druid, pagan, witch, tree hugger, or anything else that might explain why I believed everything was connected to itself. The answer is yes to all and no to all. I came by my beliefs in the purest way possible; I experienced them.

Three experiences shaped me more than others. The first was nature. We became friends early because I was a kid who loved outside. It was a place of peace, of silence, of blissful solitude. From a very early age I went outside to sit alone, quietly and happily entertained by my thoughts that were free to roam without the influence of others.

My love of the outdoors only grew stronger with the passing years. I walked, hiked, climbed, and slept under open skies when I wasn’t working or in school. I grew gardens. I swam in rivers, lakes, and oceans. I sat in the contemplative silence of riverbanks, lakesides, mountain overlooks, decks, and porches. I was always connected to nature. I didn’t become this way. I was always this way.

My second experience that shaped my perceptions was music. I grew up around music. I attended endless rehearsals. I went to recitals. I went to concerts. I went to performances. I learned early how to lose myself in music, how to hear and feel it so completely there was no separation between me and the sounds that filled me like the blood in my veins, the air in my lungs, and the beats of my heart. I was one with the music and it was one with me.

The third experience that shaped my perception of how we were all connected was the most powerful. Love. I learned if you did it right, if you opened your heart and stripped it bare to another, the separation between you disappeared. The skin became an artificial and meaningless barrier, because the interaction of love took place in a world I couldn’t see but only sense. I couldn’t put my hand on love and say that was it. I learned if I could separate myself from what I felt, then it wasn’t love.

I hope this explanation answers how I came to believe what I believe, and if not, all three books try to explain the power of those connections. If we fail to understand how we are connected to nature, to the earth, to the water, to the trees, to the very soil itself, and especially to each other, the planet is doomed. Only by reclaiming and strengthening that connection will we finally understand the damage we do to the planet is damage we do to ourselves. Only then can we finally move forward as one people and one planet.

“We revere nature, but we don’t worship it. That makes gods unnecessary.” from When The Last Ocean Dies

Kate Taylor’s Books and Art Ursine Logic

Why Nature Matters

Life moves at a slow pace where I live. There’s a lot of places to walk, to sit and contemplate, to be alone with just the sound of the waves against the shore. I’ve spent a great deal of my life living in such places. I sought them out. I made them part of the essentials I needed in order to live somewhere. I had to be within walking distance of a park, a lake, a river, an ocean. I needed trees, lots of trees, even if they were dry, shrubby water-starved sticks in the desert. They still spoke to me in their language. I still let them fill the empty spaces inside me.
Where I live now is the smallest, least populated place I’ve lived. I’ve noticed in the blissful years I’ve lived here that something is opening in me, a new introspection that comes partly with age, from that sense of having survived all the minor stuff that’s no longer worth wasting sleep over, and partly something else.
That something else is a closer relationship with nature. I’m retired. I have the kind of time I did as a child to just walk around, splash in the water, walk through a pile of freshly fallen leaves, and just sit and think about everything and nothing.
I often stand outside and gaze in wonder at the diversity of trees planted by my landlord. There’s everything from blue spruce to a giant sequoia. There’s fruit and nut trees. There’s trees with pretty leaves in the spring, summer, and fall, and stark, dramatic shapes in the winter. This is a land planted by a man who loves trees, and I am the recipient of the fruits he so lovingly planted.
But it’s the silence that makes my communication with these trees special. It allows me to hear them, to trace them inside me where they influence my thoughts, my emotions, my dreams. I wrote my novel in the shade of their summer and the beauty of their winter. They make me whole.
I’m going to repeat that. They make me whole. I repeat it because humanity lost that wholeness in the last few decades. Humanity lost its connection with nature and so it lost its wholeness. And an empty population is a miserable population.
That misery creates polarized times that demand sides must be taken in everything. It creates people who get up in the morning and choose which side to take that day. It demands a society where every person, idea, injury, slight, or petulant tantrum is examined for either allegiance or betrayal. It creates a society of us and them instead of we and one.
This is a sickness caused by losing the connection with nature. The frenzy and noise of even a few minutes in an urban environment is more than enough to break the purity of the connection. The degradation of this connection infects people by making things that were once cherished and valued, become cheap and meaningless. The simplicity of love, of friendship, of companionship becomes diminished because simplicity itself becomes diminished.
It creates a dependence on things instead of people. The constant storms, fires, and disasters caused by the abuse of our planet creates a fear of nature. It turns nature into something to conquer and exploit.
The sad thing is, when people do this, they further distance ourselves from the very thing they need to heal, the simple thing that is so complex, so hard to attain. They get lost in the noise to the point where they allow themselves to remain in a constant state of war and anxiety with not only each other, but also with their own selves. There is no contemplative silence to feed them.
So they strike out. They blame. They accuse. They find reasons for their misery that have nothing to do with them. They push everything outside themselves. They run from meaningful friendships, from loving relationships, from kindness, from altruism, from compassion. They embrace emptiness because there’s nothing left inside that feeds them. Everything takes from them. Everything makes the hole inside them deeper.
That is why, now, more than ever, we need those quiet places where we can just sit in the presence of majestic trees, and gaze upon awe-inspiring mountains, drink in amazingly blue, green, and turquoise water. We need to just sit and listen and let nature fill the emptiness. If we don’t, then we will destroy each other with our hunger.

My personal website:
Ursine Logic’s Books and Art

Nature As Teacher

Religion never found a home in me because the rooms were already full. I was so tightly woven with nature’s threads that religion’s limited spirituality couldn’t break through. Each door it tried opened to a truth far beyond the mere words of priests.

Religion couldn’t compete with an entity that completed me by showing me we were one, not separate. Nature gave me a continuity of self that would never allow me to give away my power to something outside of me. Religion wanted to exert control over me. It wanted to make me something that was not me.

Nature showed me how to find myself in the flow of the rivers as they meandered through canyons, valleys and majestic mountain ranges. I followed my own mind, my own fantasies, my own dreams, and discovered the rivers and I were a circle that nourished each other. An intermediary like religion would only cheapen that relationship.

I saw myself reflected in the depths of a lake’s many layers; the silty gray of thawing ideology, the multi-hued greens of new growth and maturing spirit, the blues of ice and sky, and blinding insight so intense my heart found new heights to test its wings.

I gazed at the ocean as if it were an oracle with answers to all the questions worth asking. I listened to the sound of the waves, the call of sea birds, and the whisper of my feet walking through sand.

I learned I was not separate from Nature. I understood we were one entity with many hearts all beating in a rhythm of different places in the same space of time.

I heard my own breath taken one thousand years ago and then reborn as the whispered sigh of a creek dancing through a break in the rocks.

I heard a drop of rain fall one thousand years in the future as the tear of a love so profound, the oceans wept from its intensity.

I learned I was the crash of a wave against the rocks. I learned I ebbed and flowed. I learned insight meant sweeping over the man-made obstacles that stood in the way of my growth.

I learned about myself in the deep silence of ancient forests, where I heard more than the soft rustle of scurrying feet mixed with the song of birds. I heard more than the trees shaking their leaves and whispering secrets with the wind.

I learned what it meant to wrap myself in the scent of change as it died and grew and died again. I watched as it evolved to a new form, as it embraced a new reality, as it celebrated its new growth.

I learned how to change with the seasons. I learned how to die and be harmoniously reborn in nature’s death and rebirth. I learned I was the waves of the ocean as they formed new inroads into the shore of my understanding.

I learned how to become the mist, the cry of the seagulls, and the call of geese as they flew through the flames of a setting sun.

I learned nature was a piece of my soul, a part of me shaped, formed, and created by a process similar to giving birth.

And all those lessons taught me religion and its unholy intermediaries were irrelevant to who I was, who I was becoming, and who I will become.

My personal website:
Ursine Logic’s Books and Art