FEAR AND LOATHING IN THE PINE BARRENS - PART ONE
There is not enough that I do, in my life, on a daily basis. I overthink it. I think about it all the time. It’s a splinter under a callus that doesn't necessarily cause discomfort but its something i know is there. I can see it and i know i should get the tweezers to it but i put it off. This sort of thinking causes a disconnect inside of me and that crusader against the powers destroying my beloved wilderness places, well that guy sits idle sometimes perplexed or frazzled as what to do. Breath deep, smell the air and let it hit the back of those lungs, take in the forest, and stop thinking so much. Take control of those thoughts and direct them as you are in control of them and more so your actions. My fear is that, one day soon, i will fall off again and become complacent. Somewhere along the way I stepped off the path. I forgot who I was. I forgot that I didn't really give a shit but yet the rules that society has set up to enslave us has creeped into my life and it took hold of me with an unrelenting grip, one that seems will never loosen. I think it was because i wanted to do the right thing. I wanted to be a good person, a good father, a better husband. Me not giving a shit was never meant to hurt anyone. On the contrary it was there to help the world, to open that eye we most everyday keep closed because it seems easier in this day and age. Me not giving a shit wasn't a rebellious action or that crummy attitude towards the establishment, it was simply my way of saying to the establishment that there is a better way. I should have been asking myself why can't I be all of those things while also doing what I love, being who I was, which when I was "going it alone" was a rebellious, free wheeling, free thinking walkabout, creating art, writing stories, exploring creative projects that held depth and made impact. I always wanted to leave my scratch in the marble of existence. I wanted to express myself through creativity and however that was, it would be ok with me as long as I was being true to myself...but where did I go? Perhaps this is another conversation for another time in place but it is relevant, in some way, to the declining health of our natural world because as an individual I am powerless but a force of one combined with another force of one, and so forth down the line, can grow to be an unstoppable force. I have real fear this very day and all the days forthcoming. I have true loathing for myself, well a part of myself. I have real disdain and I don't want it anymore. I don't want to be that anger, that finger pointer. I want to be well informed and make intelligent observations and arguments against the deniers because that, my friends, is most powerful weapon we have.
The pine barrens. One of a withering wilderness place, both where I live on Long Island in NY and also in NJ, the largest pine barrens ecosystem on the planet. Its a place that if you drove through at 65 miles per hour, down the highway, you'd most likely not think much about. After all, for one thing it is barren-esque in a lot of ways (which is its great beauty) and for another its vast, large and ever spanning. An endless landscape of few things at a distance....oh but when you really look you can see it. I invite you to get out of your car, park on the side of the road and get into that wilderness. Breath it in. Really look into it. Those pines. Now look at the nuances. Look at the smaller things - the post & chestnut oak, the pepper bush and fragrant bayberry, laurel & huckleberry, then even smaller - the viney greenbriar, cranberry, summer grape and the sweet fern. Even deeper, under the leaves of that underbrush, deeper to the forest floor, hiding under the shade of gorgeous blackberry and sassafras, the rare pink lady slipper orchid, the mosses and cinnamon fern, the tiniest of violets and British red coats. Get down there with your eyes and your nose and smell those flowers, smell the earth and detritus. See what goes on while your zipping down the highway at break neck speeds.
This place is a sanctuary to me. Somewhere I go to be at home in nature. To be at home where I live. To connect in so many ways to who I really am…that person I forgot almost. The one I mentioned before that wants so much to be a crusader for the protection of all the natural places on this great planet. I go there because its simply part of me. To think that it could go away one day isn't just saddening. Its more than that. Its insight to the way we think about the forest and even more so the oceans and animals and wildlife that surrounds us everyday. To see it dying is testament to the fact that we need to stand up for it. I cant get angry anymore. I can only do my part and take no prisoners.
To be continued…