Living with Uncertainty

Letter for Publication written in response to others who are sharing their feelings about living through this pandemic.

 

I was deeply moved by Carol’s willingness to share her honest and heartrending feelings about how this pandemic is affecting her, enough so that I decided to write about how I perceive the virus has impacted my life and the lives of those around me.

 

Here in my corner of the world summer is a time to be outdoors, and so returning to Maine in the early spring has allowed me to be emotionally present in a joyful way for Nature’s turnings, first from winter to spring, and then from spring to summer. But I am a naturalist and only too aware that my love for the wild is not shared by everyone.

 

Because I have no family, the longing to be with loved ones does not pierce my heart in the same way it does for others.

 

However, with emphysema I am also in the highest risk category. What this means practically is that I have to remain vigilant at all times.

 

Overall, my life has changed very little. I spend my days in the woods, or on the water, visit with neighbors and friends outdoors. The use of appropriate social distancing is respected during each of these encounters.

 

One other positive note is that when I walk to the pond (the only time I walk on a road) I notice that folks that once might not have the time for conversation often seem anxious to stop and talk.

 

I have also discovered the joys of using Zoom. I am participating in two virtual gatherings composed of women writers who meet regularly to share their feelings, experiences, and writing. I love being able to sit on the porch with my dogs in comfort, keeping a sharp eye on my birdfeeder and feasting on my flowers while exchanging ideas. I don’t even have to comb my hair!

 

On a practical level I have critical work that needs to be done on my house that is still pending in mid July, creating a very stressful situation for me. But I think my greatest challenge has been adjusting to living on the edge of ongoing uncertainty.

 

The kind of uncertainty I am referencing here involves learning how to incorporate ‘not knowing what the future will bring’ into my every day life in an embodied way for the foreseeable future. What I mean by embodiment is that I not only use my thought processes when thinking about the future but I extend my thinking to include and prioritize feeling, sensing, intuition – the latter three abilities reside in my body – all ways of knowing help me navigate the unknown and help me deal with personal fears. Too often we cut ourselves off at the neck with our thinking, crippling ourselves in the process. We too are animals that need access to all our senses to make truly informed decisions about our lives and the direction we need to take.

 

I am doing the best I can to work with my own issues while taking refuge in the present finding joy in simple things. I find that doing both helps keep me in some sort of balance. I do not judge myself on days when I feel depressed; I expect these moods to come and go.

 

I no longer know what ‘normal’ is, and I am not sure that going back to what we considered normal is either healthy or life affirming. The exception, of course, is that we all need access to our loved ones, and this virus has made visiting one another difficult or impossible. Most people also need to work, and this crisis is being exacerbated by starving people who have lost their jobs.

 

As a culture we are living on an edge that is unfamiliar and frightening. My hope and prayer for each and everyone of us is that we may find a way to bridge the past into a new future, one that is life affirming, based on compassion and love of all human and non human species alike. May we continue to develop personal integrity, and begin to celebrate diversity on a level that we have not been willing to do before.

 

This virus, which threatens the life of our human bodies, can be viewed as an opportunity to embrace changes that will allow us to heal our broken connection to the body of nature so that we can begin to solve the human problems that have created this pandemic in the first place.

 

It is up to us as individuals to make the choice to walk through that door.

 

Sara Wright

Equinox Lament

IMG_4704.JPG

 

We Could Have Listened

 

I made my way

to the river,

heard the song

of a starving body

barely rippling

over black stone.

Man’s* need to

control her flow

may win out this spring

as more ditches are gouged,

and she is flooded

(not in time for

the young cottonwoods

whose roots are too shallow,

but to grow human food

and graze destructive cattle

man must have to eat).

A plague sweeps

through poisoned air

infecting us

One by one…

 

As I round the Bosque

at daybreak

breathing in grasses

sweetened by last night’s rain

crystals hang from bare branches,

the decaying comfort

of moist cottonwood leaves

mutes all sounds

beneath my feet.

S/he* listens as

I give thanks,

witnesses my Lament…

 

We could have listened

to weeping trees,

screaming plants

dying animals

witnessed holes

in blue sky,

stopped poisoning

Earth’s precious ground.

 

Nature tried

to capture man’s

arrogant attention

as he built more walls

between self and other

ignoring mounting

evidence supporting what

Indigenous peoples

have known for millennia:

Interconnection

is Fundamental to Life –

Dead whales

and krill,

the slaughter of all

but three percent

of the Earth’s forests,

missing birds,

unbreathable air,

melting ice –

Some western

gods of science still

protest to no avail.

How many people

Have I heard say

“Oh, it’s sad –

too bad they’re are dying

by the millions”

as if humans were somehow

Exempt.

Unique.

Those of us that heard the cries

were ridiculed.

Branded “ Voice of Doom”.

 

We could have listened

to weeping trees,

screaming plants,

dying animals,

witnessed holes

in blue sky,

stopped poisoning

Earth’s precious ground.

 

Has Nature finally made

her point

with an invisible killer

transmitted by wind

that shrieks

a dire warning?

This rampant threat

will reduce human populations,

with the potential to

eliminate a species

by first destroying

those most vulnerable.

Millions may die

before business returns

to normal in

this Straw Man’s world

until the Next Time…

 

We could have listened.

to weeping trees,

screaming plants,

dying animals,

witnessed holes

in blue sky,

stopped poisoning

Earth’s precious ground.

 

 

 

  • “Man” is used to define the human species as he still defines himself… I wonder what happened to humankind?
  • “S/he” refers to Nature as being inclusive – male, female. transgender –

 

 

Postscript:

I have been witnessing with increasing horror and grief the willful refusal of people to accept that any species except our own is capable of developing awareness or consciousness, has its own teleology, its own reason for being. We use Nature as a commodity; as if every non human species was designed to meet our needs and those of no other.

For much of my life my experiences and my dreams have taught me that all non -human species have awareness and possess an intelligence equal to our own – although intelligence in particular is expressed differently in the rest of Nature. It is clear from a lifetime of observations that all living things lead meaningful lives that we know nothing about. I have endured ridicule and derision for my ideas throughout my life.

It wasn’t until this year that I was finally able to let go of trying to shift the trajectory that humans are on through my writing. Ironically it was my relationship with Nature that helped me understand that I had done what I could. Today most of my writing is focused on the fascinating aspects of Nature making my writing once again a joyful endeavor.

In this remarkable process I finally got it, realizing that I had it backwards.

Nature doesn’t need us; we need her.

It is humans that are in need of deep healing. Nature will survive as a whole although at present many species are already extinct and so many others are dying. The fact that S/he will survive brings me great joy, and for that knowing in my bones I feel deep gratitude.

The difference between me and most people is that I have known all my life how much I needed Nature to survive. It was this need that turned me into an advocate in the first place.

Sadly, we humans don’t seem capable of living sustainably. (The exception, of course, refers to Indigenous folk who developed a culture based on shared resources and sustainability; pockets remain) I am just as much a part of the problem as anyone else, although I do carry awareness of my complicity and grieve deeply.

There are many ways to look at the current pandemic. Many see it as the “enemy,” Nature at her worst – The “man against nature paradigm” is alive and well. Personally, it is as frightening to me as it is to others… I do not want to die from this virus and I am one of the people at the highest risk –

But I am also aware that Nature is ultimately focused on the big picture (although she also has a deeply personal aspect), and the human species is a failed experiment as of now. Nature exemplifies the necessity of Interconnection and Community. Humans have refused to hear her anguished cries…and so I see this pandemic as a “natural event” – a way to begin to redress the horrific imbalances that we have created as humans at the expense of all of Nature. Nothing is personal here. Human induced Climate Change will no doubt do the rest. How ironic. It’s only a matter of time.

Today in the northern hemisphere we celebrate the turning of the seasonal wheel into spring – the vernal equinox – normally a joyous time for many – but not this year. Instead, we are fearful and isolated in our homes … Outside my window the wind is howling and churning up so much dust that with emphysema I don’t dare go out. The raging wind also seems to be reminding me of the spread of this pandemic through polluted air, which fueled the writing of this prose and post. In this area BLM was supposed to begin its first of its seasonal controlled burns of New Mexico’s forests today – yet another irony. They will have to wait for the wind to go down to begin burning even more trees and spewing up more pollution. The lungs of the Earth are disappearing by the Billions.