12/10/2019

In the spirit

Lost

Stand still. The trees ahead and bushes beside you
Are not lost. Wherever you are is called Here,
And you must treat it as a powerful stranger,
Must ask permission to know it and be known.
The forest breathes. Listen. It answers,
I have made this place around you.
If you leave it, you may come back again, saying Here.
No two trees are the same to Raven.
No two branches are the same to Wren.
If what a tree or a bush does is lost on you,
You are surely lost. Stand still. The forest knows
Where you are. You must let it find you.

~ David Wagoner (1999)

Find Beauty. Be still.
W.H. Murray

In the spirit of pace.

This morning, as a friend and I were having coffee, I shared the above poem, Lost, with her. We were talking about the natural world — mostly notably, mushrooms — and what it has to teach us1. Reflecting on that poem, I was reminded of the Murray quote, which I encountered while reading Robert Macfarlane’s Underland. Both of these speak to me at a very deep level. They speak to the journey of life itself. To deep time.

What we are encountering on a day-to-day basis is generally constructed on top of that time — it has a self-importance as if the time frames we can know in our lives (counted as decades at the most, years, weeks, and days at the finest) hold meaning beyond the immediate impact. In other words, we live with an idea that our actions are generally more important than they likely are.

Yet in the present moment, we seem to be living in a time where the two intersect. Deep time — geological time — and the ever present needs of the world. With the climate crisis looming, our moment-to-moment actions may very well impact the long-term of the planet. Of life as we know it. I’m not so much talking about our carbon footprint as our relationship to the world itself. And thus, the connection to pace. To listening.

If what a tree or a bush does is lost on you,
You are surely lost.

What do these do? Do we know? Does our society have a story that helps us understand their role? Can we converse with them?

I can’t help but wonder if we’ll make any headway on the crises before us without this understanding.


  1. For the record, I generally find the idea of the natural world” to be silly. What other world is there? How could we be separate from it?


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