I used to think the little things were not enough to fill me up fear seems so much larger and closer than the morning sun perched on treetops but now I know how to see it how to bundle up all those little moments like so many love notes from the universe and boil them down to make a balm that heals and fortifies the restless soul I know how to let the little moments in I've seen them shrink those fears lightening the load of a heavy, hurting heart don't underestimate the power of fresh cut grass and spring showers the world offers refuge for all those who seek it transcribed into bird songs, babbling brooks, and the rustling of newly budded leaves the irony of life is overlooking what we need straining our necks to see the big picture without savoring the safety found in stillness and simplicity when the world gets too large you can find me with the small things wrapped in morning dewdrops dissolving my self into intricate mosaics of green
Bring me back to the sun to the smell of damp soil to the rising dust of a dry earth as the sudden summer rain begins pelting it with lush droplets let me refill my cup with the sweet nectar of fresh life with the soft rhythmic sounds of the land as it wakes again let me wake along with it let me rediscover the light that has long been lost from me to surrender to the smooth air heavy with the perfume of so many plump blossoms the vastness of nature has space for my cramped sorrow inviting me to offer up all my private pain to lick my wounds alongside shimmering streams and to pour out my heart to the healing light of the moon
“Oh, the river!…I know it’s like me…I know that I belong to it. I know that it’s the natural company of such as I am! It comes from country places, where there once was no harm in it—and it creeps through the dismal streets, defiled and miserable—and it goes away, like my life, to a great sea, that is always troubled—and I feel that I must go with it!”Charles Dickens – David Copperfield
There has always been something about large natural bodies of water that calm the restless turmoil within my soul. When I stare out at the gentle, undulating movement of the rivers and seas, a stillness settles over me. All of my life I have found refuge alongside the riverbank. The wretched, polluted waters have become a part of me over the years as I’ve poured endless tears out into them, and refilled my own cup with their timeless wisdom.
I too know that I belong to the river. It is like me. We are intertwined in a sacred, ancient union. I can feel it calling to me – and I too must go with it. I offer up to it all of my regrets, all of my fears, all of my sorrow. I let it carry them all away to become tiny specs in the vastness of the sea. I listen to it’s soft hiss, ever so slowly smoothing the rocks along the shore. I come to the banks to be smoothed just the same, to blunt my jagged edges and have my troubles tumbled into soft sand.
How many times have I found myself here, asking it’s sage advice? How many times have I been comforted by these dark, whispering waters? How many secrets have we shared in all these years together? When did it first begin to feel like coming home as I found my way into its profound presence? How could I possibly hope to explain this connection, this gratitude for the spirit of the earth and eternity lingering in these waters?
What a comfort and a joy it has been to have such a constant companion. This flowing life force has carried me through every stage of my life. I know that I can always rely on the river to bring me back to myself, to remind me that everything is okay. Not a single moment I’ve gazed at the river has it been the same water. Not a single moment have I been the same as the moment before. We are both eternally shifting and changing, flowing and forming into something new. Yet, somehow we are still each considered a consistent entity, something concrete and tangible. So different yet so similar.
The river is my reminder. It is an opportunity to stop and listen to the universe as it endlessly unfolds, a perpetual mystery, a beautiful, unknowable absurdity. A chance to surrender to the unstoppable flow of life and existence. A confirmation in my soul that we are all one, as I gaze at my distorted reflection bobbing happily in the rough waves, wondering where we began, and where, someday, we’ll end.
With the Earth, our environment and ecosystems, collapsing and crumbling away beneath our feet the obvious solutions and the urgency of implementing them have gone largely unacknowledged by the vast majority of the human race. No one seems interested in resolving the problem or undoing the damage that our species has caused. (Not that we have enough time now anyway.) No, instead people are entirely focused on the idiotic idea of moving society into space permanently.
It is absolutely surreal to see just how many people are giddy with excitement about the Elon Musks of the world burning up our extremely limited resources to jerk themselves off through space travel. Why the fuck was Jezz Bezos wearing a god damn cowboy hat for his purposeless rocket launch? It’s like I’m living in some kind of bizarre dream where I’m the only one with any concerns about the absurdity of all this.
It has never made sense to me why everyone seems to be obsessed with outer space and space travel. Sure it’s neat to wonder what might be out there. Surely somewhere, light years away, far past our current technology’s ability to travel, something is out there. However, the fact remains that we have no ability to know that and won’t for the foreseeable future. If we had matters handled on our own planet and were living in some kind of utopia, I think space travel would be an intriguing and worthwhile investment of our time and money.
I’m not arguing that it isn’t interesting to think about or that there isn’t a great potential for exploration and discovery in that final frontier. What I am saying is that at this moment, with the dire consequences of man-made climate change looming just beyond our doorsteps, who the hell cares about space? It’s utterly irrelevant. Our continued attempts to send out rockets and satellites is not only worthless, it is exacerbating our impending doom here on Earth, by burning obscene amounts of fossil fuels.
Some of you might already be thinking, “But we’ve got to do these things so that we can live in space or on Mars once our planet has become uninhabitable.” Guess what? That’s fucking stupid. And perhaps even more importantly, impossible. Sure, if we had unlimited time and resources, I’m positive humanity would be able to live in space or on other planets. The hard truth that no one seems to be aware of or able to accept is: WE DON’T HAVE THAT KIND OF TIME.
I get so frustrated when I hear people discuss climate disasters and societal collapse as if it is a distant possibility that their grandchildren might have to deal with one day. What the absolute fuck is anyone even talking about? WAKE UP. WE are going to be the ones facing these things in just a few decades, if that. We’re are beginning to face them even now. And it’s only going to continue to get worse and accelerate as we proceed to ignore/compound the problem.
The last thing I’ll say is this: Say I concede to these irrational and unbelievable ideas that the human species will be able to completely migrate into space or Mars or whatever before we all die here on the Earth we’ve destroyed. There we are, sending off the last pieces of humanity into the cosmos as our Earth burns behind us, do you really think we’d be able to mentally and emotionally cope? I for one, will lie down and die with this planet, before I abandon it on a rocket ship.
WE ARE PART OF THE EARTH. Our outright denial of this fact is what got us to the destruction of the natural world in the first place, and it is what continues to keep us from doing what needs to be done to save it. As much as our species likes to pretend that we are separate from or even above other life forms, the Earth, and nature, it’s simply not true. We are inextricably intertwined with this environment that has always been our home. We are already collectively suffering from the comparatively mild separation our modern technologies have resulted in. Does no one else notice the correlation between humanity’s rapid self-isolation from the natural world and the dramatic increase in mental illness and dissatisfaction/frustration with life?
Whether you believe in divine intention or natural selection, we were made for this planet. Our very essence has been meticulously woven to thrive in these environments over billions of years. Isn’t anyone even going to consider the long-term effects of living apart from the Earth??? Haven’t we already learned enough times how even something seemingly innocuous that is contrary to our natural lives becomes corrosive to us eventually? Forgetting the mental/emotional toll, we already know the serious physical ailments that result from relatively short amounts of time spend beyond the Earth’s atmosphere.
I don’t know. I guess I’m just inconsolable on this topic. It is unimaginably disheartening to see just how little most of the world cares about the Earth. To even consider leaving it seems horrific and unacceptable to me, let alone being excited about it as most people seem to be. Not to mention the absolute disregard we humans have for all the other forms of life we are willing to let perish in our wake. It’s disgusting. It’s obscene. It’s unconscionable. I have never been more ashamed to call myself a human being.
When I look around at the civilization that we have built as humans, I see it crumbling. I see abandoned buildings retaken by the earth, vines weaving in and out of windows and door frames, mossy, earth eaten walls. I see cracked and distorted highways and crumbling sidewalks. I look within my own home and I see the small consequences of daily life chipping away at tabletops and wallpaper. I see clogged pipes and burnt out bulbs. The constant repairs, the consistent yet futile attempts to prolong the inevitable. The frustrating struggle to keep an impermanent structure, permanent.
These are the most important differences between what mother earth has created and what we have. Nothing is wasted or caving in on itself in nature. The earth moves as a single organism absorbing the old to give birth to new systems and structures in a beautiful ever changing cycle. I can remember having a morbid thought once as a child as I looked out the car window over the acres and acres of headstones on the hillside. Won’t all the land be graveyards eventually? While I no longer think we will allow cemeteries to cover the earth, I do think I was on to something. The earth does slowly become more and more of a human wasteland every day. As we rapidly consume and discard, our garbage remains and multiplies. Even our homes are reclaimed by nature in time.
Impermanence is something that we have all but disregarded as a species. It is something I personally struggle with everyday. We want things to remain the same, to remain constant and predictable. Still our best efforts lead only to stagnation and slow decay. We are unwilling or unable to accept that nothing lasts forever. Instead of learning how to better situate ourselves within this system, we have endeavored to resist it. It’s an endless source of anxiety for me to know one day I’ll have to buy another new laptop, new clothes, new shoes, new windows and shingles. To clean off the kitchen counter every single day, to vacuum the house knowing tomorrow it will be covered in cat fur yet again. The ultimate decay and transformation of death is perhaps what I’m truly fearing, what we are all desperately trying to avoid and deny by our unmoving creations.
Our efforts to ignore and avoid life’s natural cycle of death, also prevent us from experiencing the beauty of growth and rebirth. Impermanence isn’t only something that exists outside of us in the physical world. Our spiritual selves, our mental and emotional needs, are also subject to constant change. I have a tendency to hold on to my habits and routines until long after they have stopped serving me. I lament to think about the fact that I’ll need to keep tweaking and adjusting my behavior as my inner and outer worlds endlessly change. How can we ever expect to accept the natural cycles of nature, when we cannot even accept our own inner cycles?
When I come up with a new productive habit or self-care routine I am usually delighted and fully satisfied by it for a few months. Each time I think to myself, “Aha! I’ve finally found it. This is the thing I’ve been looking for to make me feel happy and help me grow.” I’ll cling to this “perfect formula” I’ve discovered even once it no longer brings me the same peace and joy. I berate myself for once again growing distracted and disinterested, instead of adjusting or coming up with a new habit that better serves the new me that is ever emerging. It feels overwhelming to even consider constantly having to contemplate and concoct new systems within my own life. Yet I don’t know exactly what it is I’m imagining my time would be better spent on. What could be more important and fulfilling than learning to read and respect my own inner journey and tend to my physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual needs? In some ways, that’s what this life is all about.
We plan and construct our lives and our world with the unspoken assumption that things will remain constant. We’ve never learned how to shape our aspirations and intentions to be flexible and temporary. We are a rigid and unrelenting species. I personally am no different. Even so, I hope that I can learn to practice, allow, and accept impermanence in the world, in my life, and within myself. We can never hope to overcome or resist this ever changing system we are a part of, attempting to do so only leads to frustration, disappointment, and ruin. We are numbing ourselves to the beauty and potential that will inevitably emerge from the ashes we are so desperate to prevent.
Nature is truly remarkable in its ability to adapt to ever changing conditions. Not only do individual species evolve, but the whole earth seems to shift and grow as time marches on to accommodate new creatures and circumstances and keep everything relatively stable. For a long time now it has seemed that human beings are some kind of wild aberration of nature, something that mother earth has no hope of adjusting to fast enough for our existence to be sustainable. Every now and then I’ll see something that gives me some form of dark hope for our planet though, some otherwise strange development in nature that no one seems able to explain. Just when I think mother earth has finally succumb to our brutality and greed, she surprises me with another clever innovation to overcome our destruction.
A few years ago on the news there was a lot of talk about a new species of tick. Apparently people who were bitten by this tick didn’t contract lyme disease or anything serious. No, this tick did something much more innocuous, yet important. It made its victims allergic to meat. I don’t recall how common this tick was or where about in the world it was located, but I remember at the time half-heartedly joking about procuring one of these little buggers to breed and systematically unleash on the world. If people couldn’t make the choice to go vegan to save the animals, themselves, and the planet, I would work hand in hand with mother earth to force them to. And I would have felt completely justified in doing so. Eating meat is one of those tricky “personal choices” that isn’t so personal when you realize the effect on others. It might be your choice to litter or pollute the water supply, but I doubt anyone would try to defend that as a right. (Even though pig farming is one of the biggest polluters of water ways.) But I digress.
I waited to see if anything would come of this miraculous little tick, but soon this news story faded into the background like so many others with little impact. Just yesterday though it occurred to me that mother earth may have a new trick up her sleeve with Covid-19. Ticks may not be capable of spreading around the globe very quickly, but a virus certainly can, especially this one. From the moment this pandemic started, I felt in my heart that it was nature’s immune system trying to rid it of another virus, us. Still, it made me wonder. After all, Covid is deadly, but not nearly as deadly as other illnesses that have sprung up in the past. No, it seemed as though Covid’s goal wasn’t explicitly to kill, but to spread quickly and over great distances.
One of the more peculiar symptoms of this virus has been the loss of taste and smell, particularly in that these senses often do not return after recovering from the virus. I recalled my coworker saying it wouldn’t be all bad to lose his taste. At least then he would be able to eat healthy with no qualms. I absentmindedly thought to myself, well maybe he’d even go vegan. (Not that vegan foods are not exceptionally delish, mind you. Meat eaters just assume they aren’t.) At this, I nearly jumped out of my chair at the poetic justice of it all. NO TASTE! THAT’S IT!
All of a sudden it felt as though I could hear the earth saying: Oh, fucking taste is the reason you continue to kill me? That stupid sensory pleasure is your excuse for slaughtering and consuming billions of animals every year, wasting my resources, and poisoning my environment? haha bacon tho? How about never tasting anything again? Maybe that will suit you better. If that’s what it takes to make you finally stop this madness.
One of the most frustrating parts of being a vegan is presenting all the important, essential reasons we must, as a species, change our diet if we hope to survive, and the unspeakable atrocities we commit every day by eating animals, only to be met with the counter argument, “but I like how meat and dairy taste.” It is absolutely infuriating and exasperating. It’d be like if we actively helped start and spread wildfires because “ooo, pretty.” It’s fucking stupid.
I am far too cynical to believe that the human race collectively losing its sense of taste would actually make people stop eating and abusing sentient beings. I am still curious to see what effect this will have on the human diet. It would be nice to imagine that with every last one of their already idiotic and irrelevant excuses gone, people would make the easy and obvious choice to adopt a vegan diet, but I have little hope of that happening. I’m sure everyone will just come up with some other illogical reason to continue on just as they are. Still it gives me hope to think that all is not lost. Mother earth hasn’t surrendered just yet. She is testing out new strategies all the time. Unfortunately we seem committed to forcing her hand and giving the unspoken ultimatum “kill us all or we will kill ourselves and everything there is.” I sincerely hope it does not come to that, but I’m not holding my breath for humans to change.
Breathing in I taste the thick sweetness of summer air breathing out A shimmer of satisfaction ripples through me Enveloped in a world so miraculous and perfect humbled by the chance to simply be my soul sings sweetly along with the heartbeat of existence So much beauty to behold the many layers of this life an endless spiraling inwards and outwards far past infinity incomprehensible complexity Unfurling like a flower to the sunlight my innermost essence opens to encompass the vast vibrations of this earth Five superpowers called senses ten fingers, ten toes a body that heals and grows a brain that questions and creates at one with all there is but also somehow separate How sublime it is to surrender to the deep knowing in our bones that stardust inside of us that says, "all is well" that tells us, "have faith, and you will find all you seek"
I have always lived out in the country. At my childhood home, my parents had four acres of land lined with dense woods. Although most of the woodland area didn’t belong to us, we would always wander down through the trees to the charming stream at the bottom of the steep valley. This was one of my favorite activities when I was growing up. As I got older I would explore further and further down the stream in both directions. I have many stories of adventures in those woods with my friends, my family, my dogs, or even just by myself. I treasure the time I spent there and don’t plan on selling that house or the land even once my parents pass.
Even when I moved out to an apartment while attending college, there were plenty of gorgeous deep woods for us to explore right off campus and right outside our apartment complex. My college was nestled high in the hills of West Virginia, only visible after a long drive on winding back roads. It was almost like a small village hidden in the trees. Even now I only live a short walk from the river and can wander up into the trees right behind my house whenever I want to. I’ve always had the advantage of having nature right in my backyard.
The other day at work, we were talking with a girl who was originally from a big city. She was exasperated by the lack of people and places to go in our area. She even complained that she missed looking outside and seeing houses and buildings. Now when she looked outside she would just see cows. I said it at the time and I’ll say it again, who would rather look at buildings than cows?! Its baffling to me that some people would actually prefer living in a crowded city. To me that has always seemed like a nightmare.
It’s strange to think that most people actually live in cities now. Each year humanity becomes more and more separated from the Earth. I find that terribly sad. To think that some people have lived their whole lives within the confines of New York City for instance. Even Central Park or other state parks in more populated areas don’t do the true majesty of nature justice. While I was in awe at the unique, natural landscapes in Hocking Hills State Park when I was there, it was still somewhat spoiled by the sheer number of other people there, making that serene, calming environment noisy and crowded. There is a special magic that can only be found alone in the silence of nature. It breaks my heart to think that so many people will never experience that. There are even plenty of people that have no desire to.
I believe that humanity has lost something crucial to our survival when we severed our ties with the natural world. For so many centuries we viewed the harsh conditions of the outdoors as our enemy, not realizing that it was also an essential part of us. Not realizing that it has the potential to heal as well as harm us. That we need its nourishing energy to be happy and healthy and fully alive. We have all come from the earth and whether we want to accept it or not, we are still a part of the earth.
I know a lot of people that have hopeful fantasies about humanity living in space or on Mars one day. This has always seemed like an impossible, as well as idiotic plan to me. Humans think space will save us once this planet has been utterly killed. Yet no one seems to realize what life separated from our Earth mother might really be like. I imagine life in space to be absolutely desolate and devoid of all of the things I love about being alive. I truly would not want to live if it meant being apart from the Earth. That would be no life at all to me.
And sadly that life apart is something so many humans already seem to be living, oblivious to the majesty of life that they are missing out on. Even people living in smaller towns with a grassy patch of backyard to themselves, can’t comprehend the meaningful time I have been able to spend in nature all my life. Sitting by a single tree behind a fence as neighbors drive by or mow their lawns cannot compare to being fully immersed in the deep, green forest, or all alone on the bank of a great river. The former is a sad substitute for the latter.
I believe it is because so many of us have spent our lives separated from nature that we have so easily been able to continue destroying every piece of it. So many people see this as necessary development, as “progress.” They don’t realize that what humanity builds, while impressive and amazing at times, can never compare to what nature has already provided for us. When so many people have lived their whole lives away from the natural world, it’s no wonder they are unable to grasp the importance of it.
I don’t know that there is any way to help so much of humanity realize what they have been missing out on. Like many things lately, it seems like a lost cause. However, contemplating all of these other lives I could have led, makes me so grateful for the life I have. It has truly been a blessing to grow up and experience this little sliver of existence the way I have been able to. To be accustomed to only the sounds of bird calls, rustling leaves, and running water outside my windows my entire life. To have spent so many days barefoot, with the warm soil between my toes, walking through the shallow water of a clear stream. Collecting enough wild berries at the edge of my yard with my grandmother and sister to make a pie. Always having plenty of space to garden or simply bask in the sun. To have always had loyal, loving, innocent animals at my side. To be able to gaze at a sky full of stars each night I have been alive. I would not trade this life of mine for anything.