I know the story I want to examine next as I explore “replenishing the practice of wonder,” but that story will have to wait. Serendipity strikes. A different story needs to be written today. And it’s about wonder, too.
Befuddlement with my species.
Sunday night, I watched a documentary 180◦ South, retracing the travels forty years ago by two mighty adventurers and now ecologists, Yvon Chouinard and Doug Tompkins. The film explores the visceral beauty and risky ballet of humans dancing intimately with the rhythms of mountains and seas. As our modern day explorer, Jeff Johnson, travels deeper into his experience, he begins to recognize the power of progress to destroy what is essential to being human. The demise of an entire civilization on Easter Island affects him deeply, so by the time he gets to Chile and Patagonia, he is primed. In those countries, damning rivers for power and building more pulp mills threaten ancient life sustaining cultures and beauty integral to the landscape.
In the U.S. we are beginning to dismantle dams, so I would think other governments would think twice about building new ones. And maybe they have thought a kazillion times about the pros and cons, but they’re building new ones anyway.
One of Jeff’s voiceovers reports that playing video games in the U.S. uses as much power in a year as the entire city of San Diego. I hope I’m reporting that statistic accurately, but even if I’m not, you get the idea. Life style changes are a way of releasing more energy to supply our needs.
(By the way, I discovered Miss Minimalist today, another blog with oodles of ideas about the richness of living minimally. Check it out…)
Toward the end of the film, Chouinard and Tompkins, who have devoted their lives to land conservation, reflect on dealing with people in power. I’m paraphrasing here but these two wisdom keepers say something like this:
They keep telling us that we want to go backwards. That’s not what we’re talking about. If you’re standing at the edge of a cliff and you don’t want to commit suicide, you turn around 180◦ and start walking forward. If you’re standing at the edge of an abyss, and you don’t want to fall off, you turn around and start walking forward. THAT’s what we’re talking about. Turning around and walking forward.
I had to rewind the DVD twice to make sure I’d heard them accurately.
This morning, my friend Patty tells me that she’s just learned of a potentially toxic decision being made in her hometown on the northwest coast – burning masses of bio-fuel at a pulp mill to power places far, far away. Facts frequently bully each other. Hard to discern truth with the brain, but the belly knows. Patty’s entire town, maybe the region, have reached the cliff’s edge.
I’m hoping that like lemmings, when one person turns 180◦ and walks forward, the masses will follow.