Agree, Disagree? “Nature Loves to Hide.”

“Nature loves to hide.”

–Heraclitus, Fragments

I’m not exactly sure what this line means, but I love it. It’s an elegant, thought-provoking, enigmatic observation.

When I think about it in terms of “human nature,” I do agree.  I think it’s hard to see ourselves clearly; many of the most important aspects of our nature is obscured from us.

What do you think it means? Do you agree?

  • Elizabeth

    I’m out in Nature all the time. I don’t think it actually hides as much as it emerges and shows itself gradually. I walk the same trails throughout the year and I love all four seasons and all the little changes between them. A month ago, my woods were still pretty barren. Four weeks of rain, some hot temps, some sunshine and now there are carpets of wildflowers and explosions of green. Kind of like people developing and changing as they age.

  • Mimi Gregor

    I don’t think that nature hides; most people simply don’t know how to look at anything outside themselves.

  • Amy Christensen

    This is an interesting piece to ponder. Is it a play on words? Relating nature as the natural world and the nature of human beings? With that in mind, I’d have to say that I agree. Human beings assume many different roles and masks. Often we have to discover a person’s true nature. And like the nature of the world it persists even in the heaviest of industrial cities. While some people are dangerous and not to be trusted by nature, I can say that I have found deep beauty in people some might dismiss.

  • Gillian

    Rather an odd statement. I interpret it as the fact that there are multiple layers to nature. There is the obvious layer – that which we can see and feel, that appeals aesthetically to our senses and nourishes our spirit – flowers, trees, streams and lakes, wind and weather, etc. The underpinnings of all this glory are largely hidden unless we look very carefully. The microbial life in the earth and all the subtle ecological inter-connections are not readily obvious but they are what makes it all work. They are also intensely beautiful but in a more intellectual way. We have to learn to revere and protect all the layers.

  • Svetlana

    To me the exact answer is in a book by Lucy Maud Montgomery, The Blue Castle, one of my favorite books (which I am translating now, btw). ‘The woods are so human that to know them one must live with them. An occasional saunter through them, keeping well-trodden paths, will never admit us to their intimacy…’ There is this long very beautiful paragraph to long to quote. Find it if you like, worth it 🙂 In a nutshell, it is impossible to understand the true beauty and spirit of the nature without making effort to know it properly, otherwise it will stay hidden forever.

    • gretchenrubin

      How have I never read this book? I will track it down immediately. Huge LMM fan.

      • Svetlana

        So glad I mentioned this book here – it is pure delight for a Montgomery fan. Feeling a bit envious as you are about to read it for the first time 🙂

  • cdeanoh

    I think it would be more clear and accurate to say that we hide from nature. I think the natural world and our own human natures can be quite subtle, at times, but I believe that both natures absolutely scream at us with their insistent presence, as well.

    In terms of psychodynamic theories of the mind, most would argue that we have holes in our self-perception (lacunae) that prevent us from seeing problematic truths. In the story of Psyche, the object of her love and desire, Eros, was hidden from her view and when she attempted to see him her entire life was put in jeopardy. With determination and hard work she persevered and was rewarded for her efforts, although she was forever changed by the experience.

    In nature, life and death are intimately wound together with a terrible beauty. Human consciousness balks at this reality and so we try to shut out what we fear. In doing so, we also shut out half of the beauty that life has to offer. Thus, nature hides or we hide from nature. Unfortunately, life always has new ways to surprise us, as well, so learning this lesson once doesn’t mean we won’t need to do so again in the future.