Jungle – Part 2 of 6
From the American Heritage Dictionary the word jungle carries the following meanings and history:
‘1. Land densely overgrown with tropical vegetation.
2. A dense thicket or growth.
3. A dense, confused mass; a jumble.
4. Something made up of many confused elements; a bewildering complex or maze.
5. A place or milieu characterized by intense, often ruthless competition or struggle for survival.’
Word History (quoted from American Heritage Dictionary). ‘One might be surprised to learn that the word jungle is not African in origin nor does it come from a word that only meant ‘land densely overgrown with tropical vegetation and trees.’ Jungle goes back to the Sanskrit word jangalam, meaning ‘desert, wasteland,’ and also ‘any kind of uncultivated area, such as heavily forested land.’ The Sanskrit word jangala- passed into various Indian languages and from one or more of these languages into English. In English jungle was used for land overgrown with vegetation, for the vegetation itself, and for such land outside India. The word was also extended figuratively in various ways. We have, for example, asphalt jungles, concrete jungles, blackboard jungles, academic jungles, corporate jungles, and, the taxation jungle.’
Now I would like to enhance the above definition, of the word jungle, for the purpose of this study to include many other facets similar to those geographical areas one would find in Africa if one were to go on a safari for example. But I do not want to limit the concept to just those things you would find in Africa. There are many other jungles in the world – South America, Central America, Southeast Asia, the Australian Outback and so forth. These places easily fall under the label of extreme or harsh environments. They are ruthless and unforgiving to any who would venture into them without protection or precautions of any kind.
Imagine you are on a safari. If you could take a birds eye view of the entire area, then you would see the great mountains with its snow and ice caps, great cliffs and canyons, waterfalls, mountain streams and rivers. Down in the valley you would see the great grassy plains stretching to the horizon, rivers, lakes and ponds, trees and clusters of trees and various vegetation. Still adjacent to the jungle you would see the darker overgrown dense mass of vegetation one usually associates with a rain forest, on the one hand, and on the other hand there are deserts, hot and dry.
On its surface and from a distance it appears beautiful and appealing. That is the jungle of the world and its enticements. With the majestic snow on the one hand and the deep assortment of greens and other colors throughout the rest of the region. The jungle appeals to the eye, perhaps even in a romantic or an adventurous sense. Even the sounds of birds and other wildlife have their special appeal, all of which can easily draw a person into the clutches of the jungle.
Once inside, the jungle quickly turns frightening. From lions on the high ridges or grassy plains, to leaches in the dark, wet, and dense swampy unseen areas, to snakes neither heard nor seen, to baboon’s, monkey’s, birds, vast herds of animals on the grassy plains, to animals hidden under the surface of the waters. In the desert regions, lack of water and food, and high heat can quickly take their toll. Dangers lurk around every corner.
The strong survive, for a time anyway, and the weak always seem to get the short stick so to speak. In the end all living creatures in the jungle come to their end. They all die. And therein lies the truth of the jungle – misery in many sorts and eventually death. This is the first piece of reality we should all come to understand. The jungle holds out to us many powerful enticements, but misery and death are the only things you can expect from living in the jungle. Of course taxes are included in the miserable aspects!
During life, that is for those who survive birth, the possibilities are varied. Some creatures get fat and live long and well, while others live short lives succumbing to the dangers both seen (predators) and unseen (disease).