Hello Family and Friends, I hope everyone is doing well and surviving the heat :). James, Kora, and I have been well - hunkering down in the A/C today, sheltered from the heat outside. It made for a good day of reading and writing. It is concerning the latter of these, however, that I write today. James has been encouraging me to share some of my personal writings (poems, essays, etc) with you. I get nervous sharing my writing with the world, but I will give this a try... just this once and see what comes of it. I am beginning a collection of essays focused around environmental issues. This is one of the essays in my collection. Enjoy.
"Falling in Love with the Land"
No one ever writes about falling in love with a piece of land. All the love songs, the love poetry, the hallmark cards - they all talk about a man loving a woman or vice versa. It's all pretty straight, and lacking in diversity if you ask me. Why not love lyrics about loving other kinds of people, beings, places? We as a society are so focused on ourselves. And sadly, I think we will only continue to perpetuate this human focused perspective. (Please forgive the environmental "doom-and-gloom" in the next couple of sentences... I promise it only lasts until the next paragraph). As the world's population grows we will likely become more anthropocentric. There will likely be more human suffering and we will be more sensitive to it. Dwindling resources have the potential to result in resource wars, and the question will never be - what can we do to protect the environment so that it can sustain people? - but it will be, what can we do to feed the person whose land has been so ruined by unsustainable human activity that it can no longer produce?
I am not generally a pessimist. It's strange now, even as I write this, I feel a hope within... a hope nurtured by friends, family, and the place I am in love with. All these issues do not seem as scary or dire if you have a little place in your world to which you can escape... a place which has somehow escaped the grasp of the problem. For me that place is my parent's backyard in Georgia. It's heaven on earth in my opinion, and there is no other place as beautiful. People would probably tell me that it doesn't look like much - nothing spectacular. But just as we all find beauty in our human partners, I find beauty in that piece of land. I know its contours, its tendencies in inclement weather, its dancing, its voice. I am overwhelmed by the beauty of familiarity when I revisit my parents' backyard. I am smitten. In humans, scientists say beauty lies in symmetry. But in nature, I would have to say beauty lies in the imperfections. They say that imperfections are what we come to love in our human partners as well. In nature, however, the imperfection is the love at first sight. It's the tree with a strange, unique color in the fall, or the tree with the wildly crooked branches, or the flower that popped up in the crack in a sidewalk, or the bird with an off-tune song. Of course in nature there is also beauty in the symmetrical and expected. But it's the imperfections in nature that captivate us and nature's way of reminding us that she's there - her call for attention, her confident assertion of her presence, as well as her plea for help, her way of asking us to care for her.
I recently saw a live oak whose limb protruded out over the water's edge in just such a way that it provided the perfect bench for the lonely passerby. The branch looked awkward, imperfect in every way. But the branch presented itself, and I sat. Upon sitting I realized I had not noticed any of the other live oaks around me. By sitting on this branch, this awkwardly beautiful branch, I saw, not one tree, but the whole forest, not one forest, but a greater reality than myself.
We are all capable of falling love with a place, and changing the course of our environmental future. Even for those of us who do not take the regular walk in the woods, it is possible to love a place- a natural place. All one must do is be observant of his/her surroundings. Once you do that - nature will do the rest. She is a seductive mistress, and she will present herself to you in wildly inappropriate ways. However, unlike some mistresses, once you notice her, she will never go away. She will be with you for life - ever faithful and loyal. So reader I beg of you seek nature's imperfection with an open heart and let yourself be loved.