It has been a very long time since I have written to you... almost three years since my last substantive post. I stopped writing because I needed time to think. It was in the middle of the 2012 presidential election season and I had grown weary of the melange of meanness, ignorance, and conflict that characterized the campaigns of many of the candidates. But life continued. I have used this time away to live and think and dream more deeply, and am ready to share my thoughts once again.
Lots of very cool things have happened over the last three years. I fell in love, number one, with a chemist from Canada... who grew up on a dairy farm with six brothers and sisters. Our lives as children were different in many ways, yet we certainly share the blessings and lessons of being part of a large family. Larry and I have been able to travel - Spain, Thailand, Mexico, many trips to Canada and Kentucky. We share a love of the outdoors, of learning, and of our recently departed Jon Stewart (sad face).
Daughter Julie got married to Greg in 2014 - I couldn't have asked for a better son-in-law. Son Michael and his wife, lovely Leah, just had baby Nolan Myles a couple of months ago - I am loving watching them become a family. Nolan is already a person! Needless to say, I will be spending more time in New York City and will share photos and experiences.
So what about this sustainable health and wellbeing idea that birthed this blog? Where am I in my understanding of what it means to live as part of a global community, challenged by climate change that affects all of us in so many ways? I have learned so so so much in the last three years - and again, as I have said before, the more I learn, the more I realize that I do not know. I will be writing more about all of this in the near future - the September 2014 People's Climate March, my involvement with Pittsburgh 350.org, what I have learned from my graduate students in the psychology and environment classes. Probably the most important change in my thinking has been the deeper recognition of the sociopolitical, economic, and social justice dimensions of climate change and sustainability issues. Those people with the least contribution to the current climate crisis are suffering the most, and many of the people who hold power have a callous disregard for the well-being of anyone other than themselves. A fine situation, eh?
But for now, I want to focus on the beauty that is all around, in spite of these very hard realities. The love and the new life. And, right now, the breath-taking natural wonders of our world - right now, for me, in British Columbia. We are here for several days, breathing in the clean spruce and cedar scented air, visiting tidal pools that tell secrets about our life's beginnings, climbing mountains and zip-lining back down, eating fresh local food, taking in the beauty of wildflowers.
As we were driving into Port Renfrew, to our destination at Soule Creek Lodge, I felt such gratitude for the lush green all around - the trees, the wildflowers, the grasses. These feed us - they give us the oxygen that we humans and other animals need to live. I felt gratitude, awe, and a sense of protectiveness toward them.
Wild fires are raging along the west coast and mountains of North America, much stronger and fiercer than those in the past. In drought-ridden California, the fires are so bad that extra human power has been needed to fight them - and prison inmates have been tapped to serve (I am sure there is a great story there - will let you know when I know). What we have to lose when we don't protect our natural world is so vast that it almost defies comprehension. I know that I need to know more about how our magnificent and immensely complex environment works, and I also know, understand, that knowledge is not enough. What drives me toward speaking about the climate crisis and its damage to our world is affection - for all of my brothers and sisters - human and other animals, for our resource rich mountains and forests, for our vast life-sustaining rivers and oceans. It is affection for all of these - a wondrous and awesome love - that drives me. We will protect, with our lives, what we love.
In his 2012 Jefferson Lecture to the National Endowment for the Humanities, my man from Kentucky, Wendell Berry, said it best...
"Knowledge without affection leads us astray every time. Affection leads, by way of good work, to authentic hope. The factual knowledge, in which we seem more and more to be placing our trust, leads only to hope of the discovery, endlessly deferrable, of an ultimate fact or smallest particle that at last will explain everything.… It all turns on affection… Don’t you see?"