My Name is Sean Paxton and I Am a Biophiliac

Originally published on December 20, 2009. As I relaunch this site in 2018, I’m pleased to report my condition has only tightened its grip on nearly every aspect of my life. Thanks for reading -sp-.

Where people choose to live says a lot about the severity of their Biophelia symptoms. I've been fortunate to travel a lot over the years, but my backyard is home to everything from barn owls to bull sharks. Home Sweet Home, indeed.

A notion to determine validity in this claim occurred while on walkabout with JD, an Australian Shepherd/Chow mix I adopted in 2000. she was yet unnamed for that inaugural veterinary checkup so longtime friend and trusted Vet Tech, Al, suggested Jane Doe for her patient medical file. However, the acronymous JD is the name she became famous for. Back to my stroll with her on a cloudy, crisp 40-degree morning here in southwest Florida when it was something about that extra skip in our steps that commandeered my mental and physical state. We seemed propelled by an unspoken, but mutually realized sense of primal aliveness. Out there together for a rising sun. Roaming into the day. Just us with the wind in our hair. What struck me most was how we both felt wild. Each of us knew it and we liked it. Our walks together took on new meaning from that day forward.

I'm grateful for those thousands of miles we shared during our 15 years together, and I thank her for prompting me on that day to conduct a more invasive self-examination of chronic symptoms I've experienced my entire life. Feelings I would describe as primitive wants and instinctive needs to be outside. As much as possible. Close to naturally created places and things. Man amongst the beasts in their natural habitat. Every time I've answered the call, life doesn't just seem better. It is. Fuller on every level and the effects are lasting.  

Upon further research into my symptoms, not including WebMD, I confidently self-diagnosed my condition. If you're reading this, you've probably got it, too. That's right. Apparently, we all, at least to some degree, are wired psychologically with something called biophilia. Embrace it. Love it like a pet rock. It's a good thing. An addiction in its own right, but without the harmful side effects. Mine also drives most of the work I do, and have done for a very long time now, further qualifying me as a functioning biopheliac.

JD aka Jane Doe

From Wikipedia: The biophelia hypothesis suggests that there is an instinctive bond between human beings and other living systems. Edward O. Wilson introduced and popularized the hypothesis in his book entitled Biophilia. Furthermore from this source ...

E. O. Wilson

Love of Living Systems. The term biophilia literally means love of life or living systems. It was first used by Erich Fromm to describe a psychological orientation of being attracted to all that is alive and vital. Wilson uses the term in the same sense when he suggests that biophilia describes, "the connections that human beings subconsciously seek with the rest of life.” He proposed the possibility that the deep affiliations humans have with nature are rooted in our biology. 

Unlike phobias, which are the aversions and fears that people have of things in the natural world, philias are the attractions and positive feelings that people have toward certain habitats, activities, and objects in their natural surroundings. To many people, "nature" means plants as in a park or forest, but the weather and animals are also closely involved. It's been said that, where Biophiliacs live can explain much of their behavior. 

This is 'Mr. Bigs' captured in an image I dubbed, 'The Predatory Stare'. He's a North American alligator in the 12 foot, 700 pound category that lives in the waterways and expansive wetlands behind my house. Adult males like him typically maintain a home territory of only a few square miles. I find great comfort in sharing a habitat with Apex predators like 'Mr. BIGS', Florida is home habitat to approximately 1.5 million alligators.

A Striking Aspect of Biophelia. Similarly, the hypothesis helps explain why ordinary people care for and sometimes risk their lives to save domestic and wild animals, and keep plants and flowers in and around their homes. In other words, our natural love for life helps sustain life.

Product of Biological Evolution. Human preferences toward things in nature, while refined through experience and culture, are hypothetically the product of biological evolution. For example, adult mammals (esp. humans) are generally attracted to baby mammal faces and find them appealing across species. The large eyes and small features of any young mammal face are far more appealing than those of the mature adults. The biophilia hypothesis suggests that the positive emotional response that adult mammals have toward baby mammals across species helps increase the survival rates of all mammals.

My brother, Brooks Paxton. Also a highly functioning biopheliac.

All things considered. If this biophelia hypothosis hold true, life makes a little more sense now. Different for each of us, but those interests and preoccupations that sometimes evolve into passions and occupations are comprised of the stuff that makes us who we are, and to varying degrees a connection to and with nature plays into it all. So on a scale of 1 to 10, how wild do you feel? 

Thanks for reading. -sp-