Silence is rich. It is dark and viscous and it flows on waves of nothingness. Silence begs to be filled and filled it must be. It is lonely and demanding and chill to the touch but it tastes smooth like the breeze. Silence is an opulent black pearl and one of the rarest gems on Earth.
There is a simple profoundness that can be found in the absence of sound. The emptiness that silence provides often gives rise to thought–the deep kind. The sort that give birth to leaps of logic and flights of the imagination. Silence is the canvas on which beautiful art can be created. It sits and waits patiently.
Silence isn’t in a hurry. It doesn’t need to explain itself or impress anyone or anything. It just is. It is the essence of cool.
I love silence. I crave it even. It is sorely needed in this noisy world that we have created. Life passes far too quickly for proper reflection but the quiet gives our minds time to relax and reflect.
Of course there is no true silence, even in nature far away from the influence of man, there is sound. And it is these sounds in the silence that I take time out to explore.
Being a city dweller, the sounds I pick up are a mix of city hum and the song of nature. I have learned to appreciate the sounds I hear for what they are. Which I would have to say mostly traffic and birds…well let’s just say I try to focus on the birds and not the traffic so much.
I will often go into the backyard, especially on days when I can find the smallest sliver of sunshine. I will sit in the golden light and close my eyes and listen. Listen to each and every individual sound I can possibly hear.
This is not only relaxing, it is mind expanding. It is as if I am floating…
Each day is different. Today it is the caws of crows. They fly from treetop to treetop calling to each other. I can hear one and then another and soon a chorus rings out. The sound comes from high in the sky in all directions. The atmosphere is alive and quick and I can feel their energy in my spirit and the warmth of the still-warm late October sun on my happy face.
Someday I will escape the city if only for a day and I will go to a random field or an empty beach or a hilltop among a grove of trees and listen and take it all in, keeping it with me always.
For today though, the caws of crows do quite nicely.
“I’ve begun to realize that you can listen to silence and learn from it. It has a quality and a dimension all its own.”
― Chaim Potok
Lately I have been doing a fair amount of research for a few articles with environmental themes. And there is something that bothers me about the whole thing. As I was wading through all this technical minutiae, it struck me on how depressing the whole thing is. There are reams upon reams of information on the environment out there; books, websites and blogs from our fellow bloggers and what has struck me like a wicked slap in the face is all this doom and gloom that permeates it all.
I am someone who cares about our world an awful lot. I know there are many of us who do. I am quite passionate about the state of our planet and how we treat it. I seldom can watch the news anymore. It gets me all riled up. I find myself yelling at the screen. Environmental disasters such as oil spills and the like can set me on high simmer. So probably like many others; I have tuned out, I have admittedly buried my head in the sand. A person can only take so much bad news before they shut down.
I recently did a piece on saving the trees. It was mostly hopeful and upbeat. I included some ways on how we all can help our friends the trees. I did a lot of research on the subject and I must admit; it made me depressed.
I like to put a hopeful spin on my writing and in my life in general but at times I have to fight bouts of depression. I suppose many of us creative types do. I have borrowed a page from Winston Churchill; calling it the black dog. This dog is never welcome but from time to time it sits on my front porch and howls a bit. This clouds up my skies with gray and I try to distract myself, writing helps, working in the garden helps…helping others and trying to spread a little cheer around really helps.
Let me tell you, reading through endless reports on the state of our environment does not help. To be fair to my fellow writers out there. I know they work very hard, probably much harder than I. They are learned individuals where I am a self-taught layperson. From what I’ve been reading it is easy to see why your average person who probably cares a lot for the planet is turned off by all this stuff.
I think some writers like to show off their vocabulary and knowledge and perhaps like to play a bit on the sensationalism factor. It is difficult at times to be a reader soaking this up. There are gifted writers of non-fiction out there who makes learning a pleasure; conveying information seamlessly and seemingly effortlessly but those writers are not as common as I like them to be.
I find myself wading through this information just to get to the pertinent information. Like a bowl of oatmeal; it is good for me, but it’s bland. It just sits there like a tasteless lump and it difficult to digest.
I guess that is one of the reasons that I try to write like I do. I could use bigger words. I could try to impress you with my 20 plus years of acquired knowledge but how boring is that? This brings me back to the environmental thing. I was reading some blogs by who I’m sure are very smart well-meaning people but…and I ‘m half joking when I say this….but it made me want to jump off the nearest bridge.
If we are going to save this planet we should know what’s going on. I realize just how important and serious it all is and I am no Pollyanna, although at times I may seem like one. I am a former pessimist turned optimistic realist, emphasis on the optimism.
I talked to MM about my troubles. He is practical where I am not and he usually gives very sound advice. He said: “You do it.” “Do what’? I asked. “You should concentrate your writings on the environment, put a positive spin on it, but be real and get people to listen.” He replied calmly like it was the most simple thing in the world.
What he said made me think and I mulled it over awhile. It reminded me of my life at the moment. Over the past year or so, I’ve been hit with a lot of bad news that has caused me much distress. At first it affected me physically, then emotionally and I fell into a cycle of depression followed by bouts of over-enthusiastic denial steeped in flowery words and platitudes. I believed somehow everything would turn out for the best and I am finding this cycle repeating itself with no clear resolution. I realize this is very much like the problem with our environment; we hear all this bad news and become overwhelmed. Some of us obsess on the bad news, some ignore it and a small portion of us totally deny it. None of this solves anything and here we are hanging on while what good we do have just slips through our fingers.
I think what is needed is to face our problems head on and acknowledge them no matter how ugly and then move on to positive ways to deal with them…always looking at the bright side because there is always a bright side. We need to focus on what is good and what others are doing that is making a difference…but the key here is action.
So in the future look for more environmental pieces from me focusing on the bright side and what we as average citizens can do to help.
On the Sunny side of the street but walking with purpose,
“A civilization flourishes when people plant trees under whose shade they will never sit.”
I’ve always had a thing for trees; I am a tree-hugger from way back, before I knew there was such a thing. I admit I’ve always carried a torch for tall guys and trees. The statuesque pines of my native Pacific Northwest really do it for me. I feel safe in the woods among the wild green of the forest. I have always been strangely drawn to them…perhaps it’s in my blood; a throwback to my very distant Native American ancestors, maybe it’s because I am fortunate enough to live a stonesthrow to a temperate rainforest or it could be that trees are just really that wonderfully special and useful structures that are a vital part of out global ecosystem.
I love to be in the forest right after a tender rainfall. The fresh scent of pine is so welcoming to me. The way the morning sun shines through the boughs of the trees and how the steam rises from the tree tops. I feel privileged to witness such an event.
Beyond their majestic beauty, trees provide we the inhabitants of this marvelous planet with so much, they give us their all and we as the human stewards of this land have not returned the favor. Ever since our beginnings as small rodent-like creatures living in a reptile dominated world we clung to the trees for our very lives. Ever experience the phenomena of falling asleep and feeling the sensation of falling only to “catch” yourself? That is a leftover from our distant mammalian past. Back to the days when our ancestors lived their entire lives in the tree canopy. Our close relatives the apes still swing from branch to branch; adept as ever, holding on with one hand whilst using the other to reach for tasty fruit.
Trees today provide sustenance and shelter to a wide variety of lifeforms and they in their wide variety have perfectly adapted to our planet’s many climates and microclimates. Trees are powerhouses of natural resources and we have depended on their immense wealth for as long as we have been here. Unfortunately, I think we take them for granted; believing them to always be in abundance. There has always been another to chop down…and another and another.
This has led to major deforestation. According to data compiled by the World Resources Institute, our beautiful planet Earth has already lost 80 percent of its forest cover due to deforestation.
Deforestation has many negative effects on the environment. Seventy percent of the planet’s land animals and plants live in forests, and will perish without their homes. Trees play a crucial role in absorbing greenhouse gases. Fewer forests means larger amounts of these gases entering the atmosphere and this increases the speed and severity of global warming.
Deforestation must stop if we are to continue on this planet. I think some don’t realise how much we need trees and as a lover of trees, like my literary hero, The Lorax, I shall speak for the trees…
Forests counter erosion by holding soil together with their roots, this helps keep the nutrient rich topsoil in place which gives plants something to grow and flourish in, this also helps reduce flooding. They protect agriculture by modifying local climate extremes and ensuring water supplies. They help prevent pollution by acting like natural sponges and air filters; absorbing storm water that normally would end up in our rivers and streams.
Trees sequester carbon and absorb other airborne pollutants. They even have the ability to clean contaminated soil and ground water. One mature tree releases enough oxygen to support two people.
The leaves of trees absorb light energy, reducing reflected heat. When trees absorb water through their root system, they release moisture through leaf surfaces by a process called transpiration. This cools the air and can reduce the surrounding temperature by as much as 10 degrees Fahrenheit and the temperature directly under the tree by as much as 25 degrees Fahrenheit. Tree canopies blocks the sun’s rays during the day and holds in heat at night. Without them to protect us this will lead to more extreme temperatures swings that can be harmful to plants, animals and humans.
Trees help return water vapor back into the atmosphere. Without trees many former forest lands can quickly become barren deserts.
Trees and People
Studies have shown the relationship between trees and nature and mental and physical health. Patients in hospitals heal more quickly if they have a view of trees and nature. People are much more likely to go outside and walk through tree-lined communities, helping to provide a sense of community and well-being which in itself enhances people’s health. Simply viewing nature, or urban greenery decreases stress levels and enables people to cope better with day-to-day hardships.
Trees are Economical
Trees, especially mature ones, increase real estate values. They muffle urban noise and during the cold season; act as windbreaks; saving on heating costs. During the hot summer months their shade helps cool a house thus saving on air conditioning costs.
Trees are good for business
Trees not only improves the ability of residential neighborhoods to build community, they also contribute positively to business districts. Studies have shown that shoppers prefer to spend more time in canopied business districts and perceive merchants in those districts more positively than merchants in districts with fewer trees. This ultimately results in wider community networks encompassing not just where we live, but also where we work, shop, and play.
I think I’ve presented a good case for trees. Obviously we need them and they need us . How can we help our friends the trees?
How to help trees
Deforestation is such an immense problem. It is easy to feel helpless. Where do we start?
What follows are some simple ways your average person like you and I can do:
If you have the room on your property plant a tree or two…or more. If you must cut one down, replace it with another in a different spot.
If you don’t have the room or the opportunity to plant a tree, consider joining the Plant A Billion Trees Campaign and help protect The Brazilian rainforest which is home to 23 species of primates and 1,180 species of mammals, amphibians, reptiles and fish and 1,000 species of birds, almost 200 of which are not found anywhere else on Earth. Rainforests help regulate the atmosphere and stabilize global climate.
Help support The Nature Conservatory. This is a good cause which needs all the help it can get. Click on the link to read more about this fine organization.
Want to help closer to home? Support Local Land Trusts and Parks. There are many to choose from, just a quick Google search will uncover many.
Cut down on junk mail. It’s fairly simple: Register for the Mail Preference Service on the Direct Marketing Association website. For $1, your name and address will be removed from prospective mailing lists. This should end about 75% of your junk mail within about 90 days. ( Who likes junk mail anyway?)
Use Paperless Billing. It cuts down on paper and really simplifies your life, giving you more time to go out and enjoy nature.
Another way to save paper is to simply reuse scraps. I use old envelopes for my shopping lists. Also when printing something consider using both sides and while you are at it, ask yourself “Do I really need to print this?” Sometimes you sincerely don’t need to.
Libraries are the perfect place to go for free access to newspapers and magazines in print. E-readers like the Kindle and tablets like the iPad makes it easier than ever to read the digital editions of your favorite publications.
Use reusable shopping bags. It can be a hassle to remember but once you get used to it, it gets easy. Keep a few in your car or by the front door. Lead by example and show other shoppers you care about the environment. Perhaps you’ll prompt them to do the same.
While you are shopping, whether it be furniture, building materials or paper goods, look for FSC- and SFI-certified products. The FSC is the Forest Stewardship Council, which sets standards for third-party certification of private forests worldwide. The SFI is the Sustainable Forestry Initiative, which focuses on wood from North American Forests. Another excellent way to shop is by using Rainforest Alliance Certified Products, for a list visit their website.
WE CAN DO THIS!
I realise what I’ve said here is simplistic and the problem goes so much further than any one person or any one nation for that matter. I could cover my property in trees and never use a single piece of paper again. Everyone reading this could do the same, but the problem would still be there. I suppose that’s why I’m writing this; to help keep a dialogue going because we as a society need to have this discussion. We need to make saving our forests and saving our planet a priority. Our governments could do so much more. Socially, we can do more. We are a constantly evolving people and what was acceptable once doesn’t mean it has to be acceptable in the future.
Many believe that growing our economies is more important than growing trees. These two important causes do not need to be mutually exclusive. We the people are a force to be reckoned with.
Write a blog post; better yet, write your local government official, write the president, any president… tell them we need to stop the abuse of our planet, if not for our sake, for the sake of our children and our children’s children who will inherit the mess from us. Think the environment is going to hell now? This is nothing compared to the nightmare that future generations may inherit if we don’t act.
I don’t mean to sound negative because I am hopeful. We have made it this far in the evolutionary ladder. This is another stepping stone to our ultimate destiny, whatever that will be.
We in the first world can lead the way, together with the rest of the world we can fix this. The time of the United States’ domination is over. We have set the standard for the rest of the world and it’s not fair to blame other less fortunate countries from trying to get a piece of what we have. Instead of condemning and punishing them, we need to help them. We need to work together on this. This planet belongs to us all and so does the problem.
We can do it!
“Trees are poems the earth writes upon the sky, We fell them down and turn them into paper, that we may record our emptiness.”
I worry about our future. I wonder if our machines will become more natural to us than our own humanness. I see it time and time again and more and more all the time. People ignoring one another in public. Turning the other way. Looking right past a person, almost denying someone’s existence.
I see people on their phones. Talking away to some distant person, ignoring the one in front of them. Be it the checker who’s bagging your groceries, the person at the counter of the post office, your dinner companions.
I see these space cadets walking down the street, in the street, eyes cast down on their little box of insanity. Ignoring the real world of real people, real streets with real cars on them. Engrossed in some distraction on the screen, some vitally important game or text that cannot wait. People endlessly texting or tapping or something or another. Thumbs flipping away, eyes glazed over, mind placid and unchallenged.
We are an instant generation. Our ancestors were forced to have patience. Life generally works that way. But we humans have perverted the system. What used to take time and hard work, now takes an instant. The minute itself stretches and contracts depending on the situation. We are a race that can spend hours upon hours, slack-jawed staring at a screen and still have a hard time waiting 60 seconds for a convenience store burrito.
How much have we lost already? We of the quick and convenient. That human knowledge passed down from generation to generation. Homespun talents. Hardscrabble necessities. How to grow your own food, how to darn a sock, make a quilt, pluck a chicken.
And knowledge of a more ancient wisdom: The healing power of plants, the power of belief and living at one with the earth instead of against it; as if it were some sort of adversary. The power to walk in the woods without making a sound or leaving a trace.The wild arts. How to make a fire, how to live off the land.
I know its easy for me to say; to judge. Do I have any of these practical talents? Not really. Beyond my urbanized knowledge of plants and animals through books and gardening in my backyard, I am pretty much useless in the real woods. If I were stranded alone in the true wilderness, the odds would be against me.
Our human civilization, our very existence is dependant on “progress”. Always upward and onward. Always a new hill or people to conquer. A mountain to climb, a resource to be exploited. We have colonised, revolutionised and lost our sights and priorities, maybe even our collective minds as we rape and pillage and steal from the future generations, who will have no choice but to try to live in the mess we’ll leave behind.
We have lost our way. We are losing our humanity. We are losing our collective soul, we are losing ourselves. And it is ourselves who we need to conquer not nature.
This reckless attitude we humans have taken toward nature. This need to be dominant over nature, this very human need to conquer no longer serves us as it once had. Nature is fighting back. All the lies and ad campaigns can no longer hide this from us. We are “progressing” ourselves right down the road to extinction. Is this our future? Many believe it is.
It seems the one’s in charge on this planet are in race to use up what is left and get it all before everyone else can. Our beautiful Planet Earth has become a commodity, for sale to the highest bidder. But our planet, our mother, belongs to us all.
We are being sold outand generations upon generations will hate us for it. They will ask why. Why did we just sit back and let this all happen? What will our answer be?
“America was once a paradise of timberland and stream but it is dying because of the greed and money lust of a thousand little kings who slashed the timber all to hell and would not be controlled and changed the climate and stole the rainfall from posterity.” **Don Marquis (1935)**
A Runaway Train On Meth or how I didn’t stop worrying and love insanity…
It takes an extreme amount of energy to try to keep hopeful on this insane wreck of a planet. I am a reformed news addict; I simply cannot take it anymore! The nightly news is so sensationalist and bizarre and oh so depressing.
I do not need this, I can look outside my window and find bizarre and depressing. I feel the urge sometimes, to head for hills, or somewhere. It reminds me of a car wreck, a horrific, bloody mess of a car wreck, a truly sickening sight, I have to look away but then I’m compelled to take a little peek…and I’m frightened at what I see…
We are a great society in decline, a massive and swift decline. We are in such decline that we are likely to screw it up for all life on this planet, not just ourselves. We as a species are so egocentric, we believe that the Earth and all its treasures are for us to control and manipulate to our own greedy selfish ends.
We condemn others who do not share this philosophy of dominance and instead promote unity and coexistence. Society writes them off as best as well-meaning ignorants or at worst, militant nuts.
I am guilty as the next person, I will admit. I consume like a good citizen. I stay out of trouble, I recycle and pay my mortgage on time. I pay my taxes and I never see the man behind the curtain, I have a good idea that he’s there, pulling all the strings. I know enough to just pay up and keep my mouth shut….
Or do I? Maybe I’ve decided not to keep my mouth shut or my eyes. It’s like a bad dream and human society is a runaway train on meth and no one is at the controls. In fact, the crazy passengers on the train of fools are busily arguing as to whether they need an engineer at all. We are about to jump he tracks. everybody sees it, they all talk about it but do nothing. It’s like they cannot stop the insanity long enough to see this and I am the only one who does and I’m no damned train engineer, I want to scream…..”Stop this selfish bickering before it’s too late and we fall into an abyss never to return”…and no one can hear me but I still shout…….