I went to see Avatar last week. Actually it was my second viewing as I saw it the first time on Christmas Day. It’s rare that I see anything twice but it struck a chord. Yes, the 3D is phenomenal and the special effects stunning but that wasn’t why I went back.

The film’s plot carries a strong environmental theme but that wasn’t the reason I saw it again either. It tells of a time after earth’s resources are depleted and we spread out to other planets to exploit them too. It features corporate greed at its worst. A large corporation is hell bent on mining a rare mineral even though it means destroying the habitat of the native Na’vi, who inhabit their world in perfect harmony with nature. The movie’s plot has strong similarities to Dances with Wolves and even Pocahontas, both of which I enjoyed. But there was something else that called me back to the movie theater. It was the chance to experience vicariously the oneness with nature that is the Na’vi way of life on this colorful enchanted planet.

Avatar caresses our longing for the natural world that nourishes us, and upon which our very survival depended, minute by minute for millions of years. This “scratching of an itch” that most of us didn’t even know we had has stirred up strong emotions and the grief of our loss is being voiced by many for the first time.

Fans voice confusion on the internet about what the movie is bringing up for them. There are forums that have thousands of posts to help cope with depression.

“When I woke up this morning after watching Avatar for the first time yesterday, the world seemed grey. It just seems so meaningless.” wrote one.

“I even contemplated suicide thinking that if I do I will be rebirthed in a world similar to Pandora.” wrote another.

“It showed a world where people are connected to each other and to nature.” wrote Maureen, 17

‘James Cameron’s created world strikes a deep longing for a world that once existed on our planet. By comparison, today’s world seems lifeless, full of amateur attempts to replace the longing. We envy the connection that Na’vi have with nature.’ says Lennon, 23.

Many opinions are being voiced about this phenomenon. “It [Avatar] has taken the best of our technology to create a virtual world and real life will never be as utopian as it seems on screen. It makes life seem imperfect.” said one psychiatrist.

I beg to differ.

Life can be whole, and as perfect as Pandora if we rekindle our relationship with the natural world. This is an inside job. It starts with walks to take in nature’s beauty. Time stops and the mind stills. It continues with the practice of appreciation every time we catch a glimpse of its wonder out of the corner of our eye. Soon a vivid sense of realness sets in, and awe creeps into our daily lives. Positive emotions flow. A baby laughs, we laugh. Our heart opens to others. Life becomes simple, and meaningful.

Avatar gives us a stunning vision of what is missing in our lives. It is helping many of us see our true relationship to nature for the first time. This awareness is the first step in healing ourselves. This stirring of emotions might bring us closer to the tipping point. We may be waking up just in time to save our planet, and ourselves.

This realization forces us to examine a part of us that was buried as science, technology, economics, and consumption allowed us to think that we are apart from nature. As we made that shift nature went from being the sacred container of our lives to a wilderness that needed to be tamed. In the process it was devalued and often destroyed leaving us with lives of alienation and emptiness.

We’re seeing the signs of this renewed relationship everywhere. It is in our demand for organic food, sustainable manufacturing and green jobs. It is in our joy of gardening, appreciation of wisdom traditions and sense of environmental stewardship. Avatar is pointing us to who we really are and how we can live. It’s up to us to pick up the reins, to change our minds and change the world. I have faith that we will!

Author's Bio: 

A scientist by training and inclination Dr. Brenda Sanders is a former professor of Biological Sciences who taught cellul ar and molecular biology, and environmental physiology.

In 1997 she had an unexpected awakening into unity consciousness which instantly altered fundamental aspects of her personality. After more than a decade of integration and spiritual maturation, she has developed an approached to life that is informed by biology and the natural environment to bring continual connection and insight into our lives.