we don't need to change how we do conservation, we need to change why we do it

The Journey Part 2 – Love Grows

 
Tues. June 12/07 Cookie Time’ with Daniel
Feeling grumpy today.
The dog is the only one
Who’ll listen to me.
He knows I feed him
By personal,
Not public,
Contract.
It’s not just the loyalty,
But the lawlessness of it
That we love
In a dog.

In the last post I suggested, as a remedy for the disease of extractivism that increasingly threatens Life on Earth, that we might consider the power of a more “personal” love of Nature, and whether it is possible to apply personal love to Natural ‘systems’. Beginning with our love for family and friends, or even with the “passion” we associate with sexual and romantic love, I offered to take the reader on a journey “outwards”. So let’s take the next step.

I know that some readers might feel closer to cats than dogs; I’m a dog person myself, but you can substitute any species you prefer during the following exercise. First, we might look more closely at the sexual overtones of passion, because here it is especially obvious that we are witnessing a bodily function. But I invite you to explore the possibility that the body is the architecture, and our awareness of the body is the engine, for all categories of personal love. This is very important for understanding the point of view I am putting forward in this discussion, because involvement of the body is what’s supposed to distinguish personal love from a purely Platonic ‘love of ideas’. Personal love, unlike Idealism, does not distance us from the ‘objects’ of passion. (With a little further introspection we might come to see that ‘ideals’ are, in a phenomenological understanding, the ‘true objects’; and in fact the body is the foundation of all passion. But that’s another discussion.)

In my case, the ‘object’ is a fuzzy chihuahua, with the metaphorical heart to jump off the couch and run barking to the door even when his actual old heart had him wheezing for breath before he got there. But, observe this in yourself also when calling up a memory of your own pet: it’s in my back that stooped to picked him up, and it’s in my arms that folded to hold his warm wiggling body, and it’s in my fingers that tingled while stroking his brown curly hair, that I still feel my love for him. He’s been gone for five years now, and I still see the fraternity and excitement (“Let’s confront this intruder boss! I’ll lead the charge!”) in his glistening brown eyes even today. But I ‘see’ this with the feeling of openness that swells behind and around my own eyes. My love for Daniel demands the engagement of my whole body.

The following is one of the first poems I ever attempted. It was in the spring of 1974, when the “love of Nature”, of the day and of the moment, was not a string of words at all; in its arising, it was a condition of my whole body.

LITTLE RIVERS (For Anita)
Snow is melting in little rivers.
Dancing crystal sparkles and skitters
Over water nymphs and mud sleepers
Releasing anew primaeval quivers.
 
Buds are unfolding with little shivers
Between sun-shot arrows from icy quivers
Darting and bursting in Time’s first colours
Amid junco-strung jewelry of thrills and twitters.
 
So cast off your treasures from one-time-givers!
Gold isn’t all that glitters!
And gold, once gone, is gone forever
While snow is melting in little rivers.
 

Anita is my sister-in-law. She passed me coming down the trail that morning, as I was walking up it. The experience I speak of here cannot be separated from the experience of sharing. They are one and the same.

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