Listening to Nature-Derrick Jensen
I found myself in a consistently dialectical relationship with Jensen's writing. On the one hand I've read his book 'Walking on Water', dealing with education, twice in the past year as I've started teaching for the first time and found it immeasurably helpful. I've also read Endgame Vol. 1 The Problem of Civilization and my mind has been seriously tweaked since then. This isn't a bad thing except that I have some difficulty identifying exactly how his suggestions/actions might play out if enacted, though I think this is true of most revolutionary-type thinking, whether or not that thinking is realized in action.
This morning I got up at 5am, showered, dressed in warm clothes and with my bow in the back seat drove 20 minutes out into the rural area north of Binghamton. At 5:45 I, and the owner of the land, was walking through a moonlit field while the stars were pin-pricks of white light demonstrating out their constellations. As we created the first hill looking over our left shoulders at the opposite hills the sunrise showed itself in a solid orange band fading into the brilliantly subdued blue of the early morning sky. The grass and leaves were white with frost as the temperature was close to 17 degrees (Celsuis). Climbing into my stand at the top of the hill I watched the sun continue to push out from the opposing hills spreading its light over the stars but leaving the moon to hang opaquely almsot directly over my treestand. About 15 minutes after getting into the stand, four doe slowly worked their way about 35 yards beneath their hooves crunching loudly through the undergrowth. Not 10 minutes after their passing a large buck moved through the woods after them and presenting an excellent shot at 20 yards. I drew, released the arrow and completely missed, failing to take into account the angle of the hill. The deer bolted downhill approximatley 15 yards stood for several minutes and then trotted uneasily down the hill. Rather perturbed with myself I sat and watched the dawn take over the day. The bird song crept up in volume and the little red squirrels performed noteworthy feats of acrobatic skill about the fallen trunks. A piliated woodpecker did his search for grubs about the surrounding trees. The buck was the last deer I saw. But the morning was worth it becuase of the ability to enjoy the other animals and their activity within the woods. Would getting the deer have been awesome? Absolutely. Venison is delicious and versatile as a meat but killing the animal does not make the hunting experience awesome. Rather it is the interaction wtih the outdoors, to sit and watch and listen as a semi-invisible watcher and discover what I did not know and was not aware of before becuase of my activity and motion. I believe that this enjoyment of nature is a direct gift of God to us and because of that gift we should do a better job of managing our interactions with nature. To this end I believe Jensen is correct.
As a capstone, I would quote Dr. Fred Putnam. This quote hangs in my office as a reminder and goad.
"I dream of a school in which visitors cannot distinguish faculty from students, because all are equally engaged in learning from whatever text lies open before them, whether that text be a great tree under which they sit, a specimen observed through a microscope, a piece of music, the host and rank of heaven, or galaxies of letters in constellations of words on a page."