Philosophical book shares ‘gospel’ of Mother Nature
Local author Paul Hartley has a message to share: We must return to nature.
Hartley, of Mukilteo, has published his first novel “The Seventh Tool,” which he calls “the gospel of Gaia.” After nearly 40 years spent writing it, the book is his life’s work.
Gaia is the theory that the Earth is a total living being. The mythological “Gaia” was the Greek goddess personifying the Earth – the Greek version of Mother Nature or Earth Mother.
The theory of the same name describes the balance of life on Earth maintained by both geological and biological processes.
Hartley’s message is this: Humans have disrupted the balance of Gaia, as we tend to see the Earth as a resource to use for our own advancements. To correct this, we must try to return Earth to its virginal state, aka Eden.
“I have to save Gaia because its crumbling, it’s tainted,” he said. “It’s got this terrible virus called the human being in it.
“Eden was the best place for us, not just for humans, but for everything in this world. It was nature in climax and the human being living in harmony with wild nature. Why don’t we try to get back there?”
“The Seventh Tool” takes a philosophical look at Gaia through the adventures of the book’s hero, Jack.
After some soul searching, Jack leaves New York to live with an Aboriginal tribe and realizes that he is a part of Gaia and must live in balance with nature, with only six tools to his name.
He then returns to America with a seventh tool – a tribal instrument that has the power to call nature back through song – to share what he has learned because, in order to save himself, he must first save Gaia.
“We’re all here, and the only way we’re going to advance and still live, is to keep the world breathing and healthy,” Hartley said. “What we’ve got to do is get back to having very few tools.
“The seventh tool is a metaphor for anything beyond what we actually need in order to live a healthy life, in balance with nature.”
Hartley’s passion for writing grew with his love of nature. He started writing his first and only book in 1976, after earning a PhD in philosophy.
“The only life I wanted was to write,” he said. “If I had been a teacher in philosophy or made a lot of money, this book would have never happened. I couldn’t imagine spending a life better than this.”
Hartley is a “Jack of all trades,” like the Jack in his book, and had several odd jobs to pay the bills so that he could write. He has been a bouncer, a truck driver, a janitor, a shrink.
As he evolved, the book’s hero evolved. His message to save Gaia also evolved.
“It’s an important story, and I just happen to be the one who had my ear to the ground,” he said. “I am the scribe for this message in the Earth. I kept listening.”
After 37 years of writing and re-writing, Hartley finished writing the best book he can write – his masterpiece.
“I believe that the book has the power to make one reconsider humanity's role on Earth,” said Paul’s wife, Maria Harley, who proofread the book. “Modern society's reliance on technology and dominance over nature are leading us to an early global grave.
“‘The Seventh Tool’ is a beautifully written wake-up call.”
A friend of Maria’s, Becky Hamlett, is reading the book now and is about ¾ of the way through. She said it’s not the kind of book you breeze through: It’s a book you need to put down and think over.
“It's a wonderful, compelling story that requires contemplation, consideration,” she said. “I'm rationing the last of this book, as I don't want to reach the end.”
Now that it is published, Hartley said he would like to someday see his novel in every library, philosophy department and presidential office.
“This is an impossible journey to get back to harmony with nature,” he said. “It will never be done, but it has to be or we’re toast. [Eden] is where we came from; it is [Mother Nature’s] womb.”
“The Seventh Tool” is available on Amazon. Learn more about the book by listening to the 90.7 KSER show Global Griot, hosted by Mary Dessein, at www.kser.org.