Tuesday, November 13, 2007


I write this note to myself as much as to you. Remember this (even when there is work to do):

Go outside. Notice the sky. Feel the rocks and the soil and the crackling leaves beneath your feet.

In going to Seeds For The Future I traveled 3000 miles and spent thirty-days, in part to help myself remember to pay attention to the world I am so desperate to protect for my children.

One morning I sat perfectly still for as long as a fish-stalking heron did, which was a long, long time (during which my nose itched and my mind wandered). I don't know about the heron's mind, but she was so still she could have been a stump or a rock in the early morning mist. She struck, she swallowed, she went still again.

Another day, I sat where the river meets the sea for as long as it took for the tide to go out and come back in again, and I didn't do anything else but sit. I made no plans, not one refinement to project strategy or fund-raising plan.

It felt sweet. And rare. I realized how little of my time in this beautiful world do I spend tasting its sweetness. I vowed, on the airplane coming home, to change that.

There have been a few moments. One walk in the maples. One afternoon sifting compost onto the cleared beds of the garden. One wide-awake, eye-widening look at the full-moon rising over the hay-field (a glimpse I would have missed forever, had my ten-year not dragged me by the hand, away from the computer to the porch and the cold night air and the glowing orange disc in the sky).

Most days, I feel the opposite of that heron - motion punctuated by little bits of stillness rather than the other way around.

I don't long to spend my life in retreat, in silence and quiet. I don't want to spend these coming years of influence on the climate of my children's future on a mountaintop or a monastery. I want to be in motion, in motion that matters. But I'm trying to be a little more heron-like, trying to find the stillness before the swift motion.

Today - when a paragraph just wouldn't come out right, when there didn't seem to be any clear, honest words, just extremes of sentimentality and dullness, I turned off the computer, put on my sweater, and walked up the hill.

The pasture-edge smelled of hickory nuts; I heard a distant raven; I saw one golden apple tree,
on fire in the late afternoon sun.

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