-that which today calls itself science gives us more and more information, and indigestible glut of information and less and less understanding. -Abbey
-growth for the sake of growth is the idealogy of the cancer cell.-Abbey.
Can we just stop for a minute? Take a breath?
When I do read the news, which I do less and less, I see a lack of understanding and a rush for information, the latest gadget, and to conflict. People and countries are at war with each other and companies seem to be hell bent on making everything either faster or less dependent on human interaction.
Why do we need to go so fast? And where are going? Might we not take some lessons from the natural world we have pushed aside?
Has not the oak perfected the art of time? The acorn drops just when and where it needs to; every other year for most trees, I believe. In time for the squirrels to gather and lose acorns; the lost acorns becoming saplings. An oak will grow to 120 feet. It will take a hundred or more years, but, given time and space, it will grow. Haven’t we been here, on this earth, living alongside the oak? Haven’t we seen it grow slowly, in peace with its surroundings? This worthy tree has sheltered us for millennia; yet, we cut it down in our race to build and to clear land for houses. Maybe instead, we should spend a little more time under it, gazing through its branches to the sky above, collecting its acorns into piles to make life a little easier for the animals that depend on it for survival; perhaps we could climb it to get a better view.
I was out orienteering the other day with my son and we went off trail as part of our plan to get to our next control (points in the woods marked on a map; one’s purpose is to use a compass and an ability to measure distance with your stride to find your way). As we rejoined the trail, two women and little girl, maybe 3 or 4 years old, were walking with their own map and compass. Walking slowly, with no apparent desire for haste. I paused to listen. The little girl was asking where they were going as she picked her way over rocks with her mittened hands. One of the women responding, “to the next little sign,” meaning the next control where the little girl could plug in her little device and get a satisfying beep to tell her that she had found her way to the next treasure in the woods. They belonged to this woods, finding their way through them, slowing down to be within, despite the cold. Is this not the speed we can all travel, to be within, not just passing through?
Is not this speed necessary to see the dandelion coming up out of the grass, begging someone to pull it up, blow on those little seeds and watch them float away in the breeze? Be careful, do this surreptitiously as the neighbors will not want more weeds. Is this not the speed to see the spring turtles and help them cross roads to get to their feeding spots or perhaps, their mates? How can you see the yellow and orange tulips of the poplar tree fresh on the ground, decorating the spring mud with their vibrancy, if you are distracted by your phone?
The speed of thought should not go beyond the speed of walking. How else can we can spy the wooly bear caterpillar strolling on his merry way to some stalk or blade of grass. We would miss picking him up and have him curl in our palm, waiting for us to put him safely off the trail. How else are we going to see the Jack in the Pulpit preaching his gospel in that vernal pool behind the stand of sycamore? We need to time to pick our way through the brambles to sit down to listen to the truth he is telling.
Perhaps if we learned the language of the woods, we could couple our foreign computer codes to those that have existed for time immemorial and form our own symbiosis with and within the world.
It seems we are obsessed with growth for growth’s sake. We are heedless of living with and within the world. There are numerous housing developments being built in this town that was until recently a place of dairy farms and horse pasture. The gently rolling folds of the land no longer shelter the fox, the humble woodchuck, or the turtle that shared the space with their domesticated brethren. The bulldozers come and scrape the land clean of life, selling off the top soil and leveling the ground to build houses, sterilizing the land to something frightening in its nothingness. It may as well be on the moon for its foreignness to the earth upon which it is placed not as a companion to what is there, not as a place where the inhabitants can live within the world, but as conquerors with manicured lawns and pesticides.
Let us find those places that call to us to slow down. Let us preserve them and shelter them. Let us live within this world. If we do not, we may just find that they world is flat after all as we careen over the edge trapped in our machines, out of control in our rush.