Monday, January 27, 2014

Naturalists, Passion, and the Future

To be honest, I've been planning this post for a few weeks now. When I first heard the term "Naturalist" used to describe someone, I was intrigued. I didn't know exactly what it meant, but I had a pretty good idea. Here is my favorite definition: "One who studies plants and animals as they live in nature."
I can now place a word to my beliefs.

Probably my favorite quote to date comes from a great book on running, Eat & Run, by Scott Jurek.

"The point was to live with grace, decency, and attention to the world, and breaking free of the artificial constructs of your own life."
It was about the Tarahumara, the great Running People, who are efficient and free, and a perfect example for us all.

I don’t agree with the world. Not with the way we handle things, not with the things we call important, nothing. There is a view, however, that I do agree with: We are hurting the earth. And it has to stop.

I know that this might sound depressing, but that is not my point. Before I get to my point, I have to say this: I know that not everyone loves the wilderness, plants, and wild animals as much as I do; I understand that there will always be people who don't want to change for fear of messing up. I know that there are all different kinds of people and lots of them have no interest in preserving the wild or restoring areas to their previous populations of birds, insects, plants, etc. But I still believe that there are a whole lot of naturalists who don't know themselves. After all, I was one of them until I heard the term. I never knew who I was or why I loved the earth as much as I do, or even if there was someone out there who had the same view as I do. But once I opened my eyes to the ongoing efforts to preserve the world, I was amazed. 

I'm encouraged just seeing how passionate young people (like me) are about the natural world. I love reading about their experiences and seeing their efforts to learn about and improve the world. Their enthusiasm inspires me to get out and make the world a better place. They make me realize how I had removed myself but didn't try to replace myself. I didn't try to learn or help in conservation efforts, all I did was sulk in the garden, wishing that I could be somewhere else. I always though of how stuck I was in the wrong city or state, but I never saw or considered the opportunities that were in front of me. 

I really don't like unnatural things, whether that be acrylic yarn, chemicals in our food, or cities. I thrive in environments when the people are conscious of their surroundings and careful with their steps. They analyze and keep track of the natural world, not harming it, but helping it return to its intended state.
I don't see beauty in office buildings or cars, or cities; I see it in art, plants, animals, and the native peoples. In the stars in the sky, the people going out of their own way to protect their land, our land. If we only want to live our lives and not see the world in its intended form, then by all means we should continue on our path. But if we see our world and cringe, then it's time we make our move to change this earth and live in harmony. We're not only hurting the future generations, not giving them the knowledge or ability to let them live in a kind world, but planting them in a messed up place that will soon enough be eaten up and left to die. We're consuming the world, and one day the earth will protest loud enough for every soul to hear.

We as a people have to start changing. We can't continue on the same paved, "safe" road that we are on. Because the world in in jeopardy, and it can't fend for itself with all the damage we've done. 
Maybe we change the way we eat, what we wear, how we travel, and where we live. We could stop factory farms, encourage family farms and CSAs, and support farmers markets. We could have fewer cars, carpool and bus more. We could move on from synthetic materials to natural fibers, such as silk, wool, cotton, linen, hemp, alpaca, and mohair. We could have smaller houses, and for those who want to live in the city, have less land. A bigger lawn only wastes and pollutes more water.

I'm not advocating going to see the National Parks. If you go to Yellowstone in the summer, you'll know why. It's PACKED. To the point of suffocation. The roads are filled with emissions and people not watching where they are stepping. Our sense of the world is lost. The raw beauty that once was seen and protected has now been exploited. Instead of keeping the world natural, we're ruining it, running it our way, and without any sign of stopping it in the foreseeable future.

In order to change the world, we first have to have passion for the earth. In my life, I've seen a lot of success, and a whole lot of failure. I've seen how passion and drive come from the most brilliant workers, and I've seen how none can effect an entire team. Not having passion or drive has never been an option for me. If I've wanted to do something, I want to go all the way. I don't want to stop until I've reached the top, and sometimes that has made me fall back down to the bottom again. I get asked quite often how I can knit the way I do, how I can make the things I do. I tell them it's the hours you put in, it's the time and money invested in pattern searching, technique googling, better yarn, and more expensive needles. Not everyone has a hobby. I know that. And even some of the people who do have a hobby will not put in all the hours needed to become proficient at it. I've done that before, mostly realizing that it wasn't my niche. But I've also realized in the process that a lot of my generation have little patience. They want to be a good (blank) NOW. Technology has advanced where people expect instant gratification. They get apps on their new iPhones that provide exactly what they want, whenever they want it. Or should I say all the time? If you can get instant gratification, why spend all of that time on working on something that is going to take years to become good at? Why not just keep on plugging away at mindless activities until we grow older when they place a chip into our brains, allowing more gratification, more fun, more virtual interaction? You ask why, I'll give you an answer. Because we need to return to the ancient arts. A drive through a downtown cityscape should be sufficient to provide one reason why we need to look behind us in order to move forward instead of sideways. The older buildings that you'll see, the carved stone ones, look at them and compare their physical beauty to the modern day office buildings, built only for function. You'll notice how our image has changed from beautiful and functional to just plain old functional. Beautiful costs too much money, just like quality. If more people just had passion for their work instead of their omnipresent greed for more money, then perhaps the world would have a chance at surviving the ages to come. But with our wicked, polluting ways, our own earth with perish beneath our feet, stranding us to whatever shell is left.

I don't want to sound depressing; I want to fuel passion for our world. I want everyone to know what impact their choices have. But most of all, I want more naturalists.
And on that note, I'll leave you with a picture.

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