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Keeping Up With the Primates?

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How many times do our closest genetic relatives, the peace-loving primates known as bonobos, have sex for every pregnancy? Go ahead and guess. Now guess again, higher! Double that number! Now take that number and triple it! I’ll bet you’re still too low!

To find the answer, read Anne Foerst’s “The Real Reason For Sex.” The for­mer theologian at MIT’s Artificial Intelligence Lab, Dr. Foerst looked at primates to get underneath the stories we humans tell about our sexuality For me, reading her story was a chance to step outside my own story, take a deep breath, and become more forgiving of myself and my fellow humans. Also helpful were the suggestions of longtime dancer Carola Marashi, who has figured out how to express her “inner bonobo” in the context of a monogamous, loving relationship.

For another fundamental look at natural flows, join anatomist Gil Hedley on a journey inside the chest cavity to the heart. What he describes is not a pump connected to a bunch of pipes, as I had envisioned. Instead, the heart is like a “crazy straw,” moving wildly, slurping up the river of fife, pulsing it onward, confounding attempts to channel it. Among other things, Hedley’s tour helped me to­ ward a new and better understanding of heart disease and how to avoid it.

As our economy falls victim to the bursting real estate bubble and the end of cheap oil, still another timely look at natural flows comes from Zenvesting guru, Paul Sutherland. His “6 Steps to Financial Flow” is a combination of hardscrabble Scottish wisdom and Zen teachings to help us pick ourselves up when things fall apart.

Finally, visionary conservationist Spencer Beebe asks us to restore natural flows by remapping the world into sustainable bioregions. Where I live in the Pacific Northwest might become “Salmon Nation,” a country defined by following the fish. If you would like a taste of what that new nation might be like, come to my home at Ti’lomikh Falls on the Rogue River in southern Oregon, June 14. Once again, Grandma Agnes Baker Pilgrim, elder of the Takelma, will cook salmon to celebrate the return of the Sacred Salm­ on Ceremony. The day after the ceremony, work crews will begin demolishing an old hydroelectric dam here, literally restoring natural flow to the Rogue.