A friend and I hiked the Old Loggers Path in Central PA a few weeks ago. Along the trail, I couldn't help noticing some rock stacks left behind in the middle of a stream. Someone passing through took the time to stack flat rocks, making miniature rock monuments that stood out amongst all the surrounding chaos. A week or so later, Emily and I were driving somewhere. In the passing scenery, I saw another such rock stack in a stream nowhere near the ones I passed on foot. Hundreds of miles and one week apart, the events brought to mind the work of Andy Goldsworthy, whom I admire greatly for his close connection with nature on a daily basis. I learned of his work years ago from a professor (and fellow Blogspotter). Goldsworthy's art reflects time spent to establish cosmic order using natural objects. I find it so interesting that a man would use naturally-existing objects and financially-valuable time to make structures that would not otherwise form in the natural order of things.
Man has, for the most part, taken this premise to appalling lengths. I mourn those who died from the collapse of the Twin Towers, but I do not mourn the towers themselves. I see no beauty whatsoever in the proposed Freedom Tower that will replace the Twin Towers, but I see lots and lots of beauty in structures like Stonehenge.
We are all lucky that men like Goldsworthy exist to bring humans closer to something like humility. He returns us closer to the builders of ancient rock structures, who, like Goldsworthy, built structures to bring cosmic order to the earth.
I do not choose to ignore the self-interest in such construction projects. In its days of use, the grounds of Stonehenge were a place of selfish human sacrifice. Our morals have evolved since then. Nowadays we only sacrifice each other in non-lethal ways. The skyscrapers of the modern age act less like examples of cosmic human order, and more like the economic excesses of a rich minority. The proposed Freedom Tower will become one such place where the rich minority can create more debt for the poor majority. (I know what I believe, so you'll have to ask yourself if you feel like your quality of life is being sacrificed for the benefit of others.) The difference I see between Stonehenge and skyscrapers is one of man vs. nature. Man's existential system, society, is based mostly in beliefs and inter-relationship. Nature's existential system, balance, is based mostly in science. We can deconstruct beliefs and the nature of relationships, but there is no deconstructing nature. Nature operates as it does, and that is that.
From now on, I plan to devote much more of my own deliberation to issues of ecology, and I think my blog of late is proof. From this moment forward, I offer the chew toy up as a sacrifice to the planet I love. Here, I will engage in deep consideration of ecological caution, because I consider anything else immoral support for continued ruination. My spirit demands that I make this extra effort on behalf of others. I take great pride in being blind to "unnecessary" caution. I don't mind that others speed on, blissfully ignorant of the impact they create. Most of all, it's their loss. They pay no mind to the beauty they help to destroy, nor do they recognize the ways they're wasting their own existences paying attention to useless crap. I do admit though that I often wish I could force hyper-capitalists to nurture the planet as much as they take advantage of it.
But I know I can't force anyone to realize something, and it would be morally wrong to do so if I could. For this reason, I am saddened a little by the realization that I may already have chosen for at least one person. In recent months, I've been very seriously owning up to the responsibility of the child Emily and I have on the way. The world of that child is in jeopardy, because of decisions made by me and those around me. I have no choice but to enter a new era of questioning everything I do, even more so than before, which poses a real challenge given the obligation I have to recognize when I should ease off from making decisions for my child. In the meantime, our newborn will be unable to make choices for him-or-herself. Newborns create increased ecological impact, which is where I can make a difference on my newborn's behalf.
For its own benefit, the market economy promotes a parenting of convenience. Unfortunately for the market, that c-word sets off alarms all over my conscience. Convenience, or ease of human living, only creates dis-ease for the planet. The convenient living we've established is as good as ignorance. While ignorance may be bliss, it's also ignorance, and I don't want to be an ignorant parent. For the time being, I will accept all responsibility for myself and my child. In those times when I have to throw away a baby food package, I want to feel the act in my gut. In those times when I find it convenient to use a plastic disposable diaper, I want to feel the smelly plastic choking me like it chokes my planet. My hope is that these pains will make me a more conscientious parent and a less admired consumer. Reduce, reuse, recycle means getting creative, so that's what I plan to do. I don't need to heed the parenting crap blasted at me by TV commercials. Companies can't tell me the easiest way to raise my child. To be a good parent, all I need to do is take a deliberate role in raising my child, and I simply do not see what there is to learn from wrapping his or her poop in a disposable diaper and removing it from sight as soon as possible. Disposables are easier, but if I really want to know my child, I'll share an existence with him or her through very deliberate acts--like scraping poop out of a cloth diaper and washing that diaper in a pail. (Hey, it's just poop. It's not like cloth diapers support terrorism or anything.) The very deliberate act of using cloth diapers will remind me that easy isn't necessarily good. Sometimes, easy runs on lacking creativity.
I often hear parents talk with concealed joy about the many physiological nasties their children produce. "Oh, I see all sorts of stuff shooting out of little Sammy," they might say with a restrained chuckle. They're unaware of the cosmic order they create by spending the time to move something "nasty" away from their children. This cosmic order hits a sudden roadblock when parents wrap their child's poop in a disposable diaper and ignore it from that point forward. They ignore the potential energy that fecal matter has to offer the immediate ecosystem. Poop can be returned to the planet through the dumping of a diaper pail. Instead, it sits preserved like a corpse, wrapped in plastic for the many kajillionz of years it takes disposable diapers to biodegrade.
(stolen from www.greendiary.com/images/disposable_diaper.gif)
Meanwhile, detritus cycles continue cycling without that fecal matter. The turning detritus cycle of any given ecosystem constitutes an overwhelming majority of that cycle's energy. The amount varies from one ecosystem to another, but when I say "an overwhelming majority," I mean the detritus cycle checks in at somewhere near the 90-th percentile of energy in a given ecosystem.
What does all this have to do with the rock structures I've seen lately? As our ecosystem adjusts quietly to slow human self-destruction, I'm sensing a real nervousness among people. More unsettled, I think people are becoming less content with the way of things. Whether they realize it or not, the skeptics of destruction perpetuate a message as toxic as their irresponsible practices. When we can quiet our own agendas, it's quite easy to see that global destruction is being proven by science. (See a later, smaller post.) It's not some agenda. It's the fate of the entire world. The only way to re-establish cosmic order on this planet is through very deliberate and loving acts of nurture. Building rock structures takes this sort of disposition.
Let me end by saying I feel no guilt at all for my place on this planet. I'm not telling others not to use disposable diapers. I'm saying I don't want to, because I see the importance of the hard work it takes to maintain cosmic order. This existence is about making choices that affect the ecosystem of which we're a part, and I strongly question the abilities of most people to know what a relationship with the planet feels like. From where I'm standing, they aren't living their lives. They're spending them, one dollar a minute. Well, I favor a debt of a different kind. I don't want my life owned by corporations and banks. I'd prefer to make daily payments to the nature that gave me a loan in the first place. That way, when the big day comes, I know I'll be able to pay back the loan. The only way I'll get there is by making a daily effort to pay back pieces of the debt, one deliberate act at a time.
Do you think Stonehenge was easy to build? No, the people who built it spent many years and performed "miracles" to get the stones of the Sarsen Circle so perfectly aligned to the summer solstice sunrise. Ancient people didn't make rock structures because they were bored, or because they were easy to make. True, they did it construct them to slaughter someone for the benefit of everyone else, but the point is, those who built Stonehenge made personal sacrifices to construct the monument. They took valuable time out of their survival schedules because they saw building the rock monument as time well-spent.
I saw no sacrificed animals splayed out in front of the rock stacks that started this entry. Nor were those monuments aligned to cosmic events in the sky, as far as I could tell anyway. So what purpose did they serve the people who made them? I saw no clear and practical purpose, other than that they enjoyed the deliberate act of making them. It is my dream that someday the majority of people on this planet will come to understand the wisdom of its ignored minority. For those who built the rock stacks I saw, know that I understand why you did what you did, whether you know or not. I share that love of existence, and I plan to go on living my own "foolish, tree-hugging" existence until the day I die, when I get to make one giant re-entry into the detritus cycle.