Having just finished J.K. Rowling’s first Potter book that morning, I couldn’t help but smile at the cosmic timing of receiving a used copy of Edward Abbey’s “Desert Solitaire: A Season in the Wilderness” late last Saturday. New book, new adventure.
Mr. Weiss, one of our neighbors (and only immediate neighbor) had picked it up. He found it at a local book and comic store, the purchase prompted perhaps by his telling me about the book in one of our near-the-hedge conversations, reminiscent of Tool Time‘s Tim Taylor and Wilson W. Wilson. Side note: Were the worth of our new neighbors factored into the property value, we wouldn’t be able to afford this place.
337 pages of loveliness, not loneliness
It’s a book about the author’s time as a solitary US Park Ranger at Arches National Monument in the Southwest. Autobiographical and perhaps envirographical (if you’ll permit me a new word though it’s a wee bit early in the day for that kind of foolishness), the book’s about his series of experiences in nature, and arguably experiences as a part of nature.
That’s what I wanted to write about: that separation.
Well before noon, with C already at a lecture and G still snoozing, I’m making some progress in the book, when I’m particularly struck by a snippet:
“There’s a disadvantage to the use of a flashlight: like many other mechanical gadgets, it tends to separate man from the world around him.”
Truth ages well
I’d never thought about a flashlight in those terms before, though I can see his point. But more than just the electric torch example illuminates, I’d say it’s important to consider how today’s mechanical gadgets tend to separate us from the world around us.
Take the Chromebook on which I’m scratching out these thoughts — mos def not part of Edward’s reality when he typed out his draft. Yet his observation still holds true.
You see, now, I’m looking at a screen, not the wild rabbits in the backyard, daily visitors in our little half-acre Eden, seen through the large kitchen window.
I’m using this electronic medium to (hopefully) connect with others, who will (hopefully) get something from these words, who might (hopefully) share them with others, perhaps helping them in some way and helping me make way as a writer in the meantime. All that hinges on my being in front of the screen.
But the cotton-tailed little darlins are still in the backyard, nibbling the grass to their hearts’ content.
I could be outside, grass between my toes, moving slowly, quietly, seeing just how close I could get before they dart off. What an experience that would be. What fun. How memorable and worthy of my time!
So, yeah, gadgets can help us connect, but the original connection — that of humans with nature — it’s hard to come by. I’m of the mind that it takes effort to do so now more than ever. Similarly, we need it now more than ever.
I’d encourage you to take some time today, no matter how much, or where, or when and connect with nature. Doing so doesn’t mean you have to become a US Park Ranger.
Step into the woods and listen.
Stare at a houseplant and observe.
Hesitate before getting into the car and scurrying onto the next errand, close your eyes, breathe deep.
Nature’s there, waiting. Remember that, connect with it, and give it some love.