Wednesday, May 29, 2013

My Creative Mind

Alright, so sometimes I get a random epiphany and inspiration to do some creative writing.  I've decided to share a little with you.  Keep in mind that this would be considered a VERY rough draft and it's not even a complete story.  I'd love to hear your comments and thoughts though, so feel free to share!

“Follow me.”  

She smiled then winked at me and disappeared into a tangle of trees through which nothing was visible.  It was bad enough trying not to fall over all the roots on the forest floor, but trying to keep up with her was another thing entirely.  She was nimble and used to this place.  This had always been her home.  She rejoiced in the rain that revived her plant friends when the scorching weather had weakened them to almost nothingness, and she grieved in the loss of the ant colony whose log had collapsed into itself, destroying all the little tunnels and secret rooms within.  
Finally catching sight of her, kneeling to watch a burying beetle cover a carcass of some recently deceased animal, I was able to get a better look at my surroundings.  Sunlight streamed through the canopy in small patches, but most of the forest was kept out of the direct rays.  This was thanks to the skyscraper-like trees that caught much of the sun a couple hundred feet above.  I also noted a feeling of harmony in this place.  Everything here felt so natural and so connected.  I felt as if one single songbird could sing the joys of every plant and animal here.  I could ask the trees how the jaguar was feeling today, and they would know.  The rabbit in the burrow to the east would know of the badger’s sick young to the south.  Everything here lived in the same rhythm.

“Can you hear it?  This is the song of the earth.  My home rejoices for I have returned, but much is not the same as it was.  Still, the woods sing.  The crickets conduct as the wind whispers in the treetops.  The birds sing out their solos perfectly.  Oh, how I have longed to talk to my friends here, to see how they fare in this failing world.  Everyone out there in civilization says they are the ones progressing.. How can they not see what true progression is?  Here we do not need to plant crops, for the forest holds plenty of edible flora.  We have no need for raising domesticated animals in order to satiate our hunger, for the fauna too is plentiful.  What good is economic gain here?  One needs not money to survive.  One needs peace, happiness, and a curiosity for everything within reach.  Look! Here is a Blue Morpho butterfly!  See the beautiful blue hues? Don’t they capture your attention?”

It was then that I saw her true beauty.  This girl was one with the earth.  Her passion shone through her like a flashlight shines through a dark tunnel.  It illuminated everything around, encompassing the whole world in a glow.  Her eyes sparkled like freshly polished diamonds, throwing little spotlights on whatever it was that held her attention in each moment.  
The butterfly she spotted was not just a butterfly to her, it was a Blue Morpho butterfly.  It traveled far and wide to find this spot.  It was laid as an egg on the underside of a delectable leaf.  It hatched and grew, consuming not only the egg sac it had been contained in, but also a few leaves of the lucky plant it had been placed on.  After it ate it’s fill, enough to last for weeks in a cocoon, it found a hiding place to wrap itself up in and sleep.  Although, sleeping may not be what it did exactly.  While in the cocoon, it grew more, not any wider than it already was, but it grew wings of extraordinary color.  It grew so that it could be prepared for it’s next stage of life.  Flight.  It emerged from the cocoon and waited for its wings to unfurl.  Only then could it be in the state she found it in today.  
That was how she saw everything.  Nothing to her was as it physically presented itself.  Everything was seen as a journey.  She looked at a new leaf on her favorite tree and thought of the nutrient rich soil.  She thought of the thunderous storms that brought the much needed rain.  She thought of the sunlight, how it must have found another blade on this tree already to have created a new leaflet.  She thought of the birds whose nests sat high overhead and of the worms who scoured the soil beneath, searching for waste to break down.  All this came to her mind simply because of a single leaf.

“You know, this world has a lot to teach you ‘civilized’ folk.  Have you seen the silent forests?  Do you know why they no longer have voices?”

At her questions, I was stumped.  I know of the places she was describing, however I don’t know why they are the way they are.  I mean, humankind depends on the resources from those forests.  I see nothing wrong with they way they are now.

“What do you mean by, “They no longer have voices”?  The earth doesn’t speak, animals make noises, but they don’t talk to us.  Sure, there are some debatable occurrences where animals have been able to ‘communicate’ with us, but I don’t believe that is what you are referring to.”

“Of course they speak!  Everything on earth has its part in life’s orchestra, just as we do.  Just because no other beings speak the human language doesn’t mean that they don’t have a voice!  How can you be so blind?  Listen to them!”

He could tell he had angered her, and that was far from his intention, but he still just didn’t understand this whole “rhythm of life” thing.  He was beginning to be frustrated with her for getting so worked up over everything.

“I am listening, but I don’t hear anything!”

He kept his tone even, though his frustration did show, and she was very perceptive.  A piercing glare passed his way feeling like a knife in the stomach, and then, a second later, she masked her emotions and continued talking calmly, almost too calmly.  It was eerie the way she could so abruptly change her responses.  She was obviously very practiced in hiding how she really felt.

“Those that listen, hear all.  If you hear nothing, you are either in a disturbed piece of the world, or not bothering to listen..”

With that she turned and began walking away from him, deeper into “her” forest.  Her footsteps were so light that it was almost impossible to believe she was actually there and not some figment of imagination.  She made her way to the biggest tree in the area, and stopped to gaze up at it.  From this view, Tristan could see a single tear as it fell from her beautiful eye and went running down her face.  Its trail was illuminated by the patch of sunlight she had found near the tree.  He could see once again how strongly she felt for the earth, and he felt awful for not seeing the same beauty in it.  Her devotion to helping and saving all living creatures was astounding to him.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

A Friendly Reminder, Reflection on Bull Shoals Cleanup Day

Today I just want to reflect on what I did last Saturday.  

Saturday I went with my region of the Conservation Leadership Corps to clean up a shore area by Bull Shoals Lake.  There were only 5 of us who went and we spent about 3 hours cleaning.  In that time, we managed to find 8 tires and fill 11 big trash bags full of dock foam, bottles, old shoes, food wrappers, etc.  Now, most people may not think picking up trash for three hours could be enjoyable, but I enjoyed every single minute of it.  I love being with people who are passionate about wildlife like I am, I love being outside on a beautiful day, and I love making a difference.  I realized something Saturday.   A lot of us have big dreams and have moments where we feel inspired to do something and make a difference, but after a while those things fade.  They fade without notice and we're too busy in our lives to even see them slip away.  Then one day, a wake up call comes and we realize just how far we've let our dream slip, just how far we've been from thinking about the things that were once so important and inspiring to us.  The people that went to the cleanup helped to wake me up again.

On our drive to Bull Shoals, we saw birds flying overhead.  But they weren't just birds.  They were Scissortail Flycatchers, American Robins, American Crows, and we even saw an Osprey.  At the field station, we heard birds.  But they weren't just birds.  They were Pileated Woodpeckers, Indigo Buntings, Cardinals, and Tufted Titmouse.  I had forgotten how much I need to be around people who share my knowledge and share my passion.  I hadn't realized how much was missing from my everyday life until Saturday.  I love my friends here in school, but they all have different passions and don't relate to my passion.

I remember going to a Christian worship service once.  The preacher was answering a question someone in the audience had asked.  It was about a Christian person being in a relationship with someone who wasn't of the Christian faith.  The preacher was saying that Christian people should be in relationships with other Christian people.  I wasn't sure how I felt about that statement at first.  It seemed to me that he was making a plug that Christians shouldn't date non-Christians because he viewed Christians as being "above" that.  But he wasn't saying that at all.  He was saying that you should try to be with someone who strengthens your passions, strengthens your Christianity.  He was saying that a non-believer could potentially bring you down, and as a Christian, it's hard enough not to let life drag you down without the help of someone else.  I think this applies to the people you surround yourself with too.  I realized on Saturday that I need time to be around people who share my passions.  I need them to revive the feeling in me to make a difference and do something big with my life.  I'm not saying that I need to ditch everyone who doesn't share my visions, because that would be a silly thing for me to do.  I learn a lot from people who are different from me.  What I do need is that time with nature, and that time with people who understand the connection I feel with it.

It's not like the cleanup Saturday had a huge impact on my life.  It didn't dramatically impact me.  It was  a friendly reminder.  A reminder for me to keep myself on track.  A reminder to hold onto my dreams because I'm not alone.  I really enjoy every single one of the people who were there with me that day.  I want them to know how thankful I am for the reminder, and how thankful I am for their passions for the natural world around us.  I hope everyone can take the time to reflect every once in a while one their own dreams.  Dreams are what make the big differences in this world.  We need them in our sights so we can achieve them.  Don't ever give up.  Life drives us on whether we want it to or not, we might as well be moving forward.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Compassion and Making a Difference

This post is kind of lengthy, and for that I apologize.  I believe strongly in what I have to say and I feel the need to share it.  I'm seriously going to try and revive this blog now as well.

on to my real post...

     Today I decided to read all of the articles in my newest issue of the Smithsonian magazine I've subscribed to.  While reading, I noticed a trend among the successful people in the articles: compassion.  Pardis Sabeti is one of those successful people.  She is known for her work in genetics and what genes are advantageous to combat lethal illnesses.  The major thing I picked up on while reading though, was her eagerness and drive to do something good for the world: to make a difference.  She says at the end of the article, "My kind of, like, goal is to help train students to be good people as well as good scientists."
     Bryan Stevenson, in the article about his efforts to represent and protect children from receiving the same penalties for crimes as adults and to protect people from receiving the death penalty, makes the connection that we only view the death penalty as okay because we think we have found a humane way to do it.  We wouldn't rape someone as punishment for their rape crimes, and we wouldn't assault someone as punishment for their assault crimes.  So why do we think it's okay to kill people, regardless of their crimes?
     This is a question I personally have struggled with.  It makes more sense economically to kill someone versus sentencing them to life imprisonment, but does that justify the murder?  I'm not so sure.
     Too many times we have justified or looked away from things that would be considered wrong if not for the economic benefit.  I think our societal view on economy has desensitized us to that which is truly important: our morals.
     It is human nature to make mistakes, but is it not human nature to also want to help others if the opportunity arises and we are aware and capable to help?  I think it is.  This is shown by the general public when the truth comes out about how some beef cattle are inhumanely slaughtered, when we hear stories of those civilians affected by civil war in some other country, or when we hear the stories of orphaned girls in China when their parents desert them because they wanted a boy.  It's these personal heart-wrenching stories that reach us and make us want to do something.  It's those things that bring out our compassion.
     We have become subdued by all of the material things in this world, money being probably the main one, and by the idea that one person can't make a difference.  Let me make one thing very clear.  One person, yes even you, can make a difference.  You can.  I can.  Your crazy aunt can.  Your college roommate can.  Your best friend from third grade can.  You know why?  Because you already have.  You are.  You will continue to for the rest of your life.
     Think about all of the people you've met.  Okay, now name 5 people who didn't impact you in some way.  It doesn't have to be a profound way.  They could have impacted you just by being friendly upon meeting them for the first time.  Or maybe they weren't friendly.  That's an impact too.
     If other people impact you so easily, then why do you think you're the anomaly?  Why are you the one who can't make a difference?  See where I'm going with this?  You can make a difference; you have no choice really.  Do something positive with it.  Bring back compassion.
     Random acts of kindness go through stages of where it's "cool" and "popular" to do things of that sort, and then there are times when it's rare for them to happen.  How sad is that?  How lost are we that an act of kindness is cause for such surprise?  It should never be some big shock, because we should all practice kindness.  We should all develop our sense of compassion.
     So many studies have shown that helping others, whether it be children, adults, or even animals, makes people way more happy than money ever could.  So why is society still so focused on money?  Does money ever really make you successful if you harm people in the process?  Are you successful if you look away during horrible atrocities in order to increase your profit?  Are you successful if you could easily help someone, but just choose not to because it would be unpopular to do so?  No.  No you aren't.  So please, wake up!  Don't let society's standards and ideas subdue you.  Help make the world a better place because you can.  All you need to do to start is help bring back compassion to our world, one person at a time.  Lead by example.  When people see what you're doing and how it affects you, they will follow.  It's what we do.  Be the ripple in the water that grows and grows until the whole world is washed in that same water.  Let's help the change!  Be compassionate and make your difference meaningful.

Monday, May 21, 2012

This I Believe

I recently found something I wrote my freshman year of high school.  I really enjoyed reading it again, so much so that I thought I'd share it with you:

This I Believe
     I believe in conservation.  I believe all animals and plants have an important place in this world and are here for a purpose.  I believe mankind has been given the task to protect this extraordinary world and wildlife within it.  And I believe we are failing, horribly failing.
     My love for animals has been present as far back as I can remember.  My mother says that one of the very first books I picked up was a book called "Baby Animals" and even though I could not read it, I immediately loved the book.  I was one year old.  By the time I'd finished kindergarten I was already doing a little reading from various animal books that I found, and in 1st grade I even wrote a story about animals in a circus.
     Third grade was a big year for me.  I read books like The Call of the Wild and White Fang.  My heart went out to the animals in those books; I wanted to jump  in the book and bring justice!  I wanted the people who hurt these animals so badly to pay fro what they had done.  I wanted to explain how much respect those animals deserved.  I wanted to learn, to learn more and more and more.  I begged my mom to buy me every animals encyclopedia and book I saw.  I began tracing pictures of animals; reading about their habitats, prey, predators, lifestyles, and everything else I could possibly find out; I sat for hours and hours and just read and learned.  I make a binder specifically for my "animal research" as I called it.
     That love I had as a young child has never left me; it has only gotten stronger and stronger throughout the years.  Today the wildlife on this planet is in serious trouble.  Even though there are many people who care, many efforts to help, I know that a lot more needs to be done of the environment is to thrive like it should.
    I believe that I can be a leading factor in the recover of wildlife.  My plan for my life involves learning even more about this world and everything living in it.  It involves giving wildlife a chance and educating as many people as possible on its importance.  I believe the animals and plants were put on this earth by God, not for us to use and abuse, but for us to take care of and live peacefully with them in this magnificent place.  This world is an extraordinary gift that we have been given, and I plan to do all I can to restore its beauty, its magic, its wonder.  Everything that captivated me as a young child, I want it all to be there, for generations and generations to come, so that one day my children's children can point to a bird flying high in the sky or a deer running through an open field and say with amazement, "look at that," and I can look back on my life and remember all I did to keep this here, for them.

Thursday, November 3, 2011


Once again, I have read something in A Sand County Almanac that has caught my attention.  Here is an excerpt from the book starting on page 67:

     "When some remote ancestor of ours invented the shovel, he became a giver: he could plant a tree.  And when the axe was invented, he became a taker: he could chop it down.  Whoever owns land has thus assumed, whether he knows it or not, the divine functions of creating and destroying plants.
     Other ancestors, less remote, have since invented other tools, but each of these, upon close scrutiny, proves to be either an elaboration of, or an accessory to, the original pair of basic implements.  We classify ourselves into vocations, each of which either wields some particular tool, or sells it, or repairs it, or sharpens it, or dispenses advice on how to do so; by such division of labors we avoid responsibility for the misuse of any tool save our own.  But there is one vocation--philosophy--which knows that all men, by what they think about and wish for, in effect wield all tools.  It knows that men thus determine, by their manner of thinking and wishing, whether it is worth while to wield any."

I find this very interesting.  Man has made himself a kind of "god" over the earth around him:  deciding where to plant new life, and where to take it away.  Our whole society seems to revolve around this.  It is true that our jobs are a division of the "original pair of basic implements."  These divisions, like Aldo Leopold said, make it easy for us to avoid the responsibility for the misuse of other tools in different divisions.  We are only concerned with our own tools, and not as concerned with what others are doing.  We sometimes get the attitude of, "well, I did my part.  I'm not in control of the other parts and it isn't my job to make sure they are doing the best they can with their tools."  In reality, wouldn't it be best if we all worked together?  Shouldn't society work in an informal checks and balances system?  One part does its job in cooperation with the other parts, and it depends on the other parts to do their jobs the right way.  Shouldn't we call out those who are misusing their tools?  Shouldn't we be concerned when others are wasting our precious resources, even if it doesn't directly affect us?  If you think about it, everything that is done in this world affects us one way or other.  It doesn't have to directly affect us; there are many indirect effects of other's actions.  We should want to make the world a better place.  We should want to help others when they need it.  We should want to be mindful and respectful of our earth and all of the resources it contains.  We should be the ones who make others see just how strong of an impact they make.  Many reasons for misuse of tools today stem from lack of education about the tools.  Shouldn't it be our moral imperative to inform others?  We have to work together in our society.  We shouldn't be so tunnel visioned and focused on our own lives that we just look over and around everyone else.  Let us all work as one society.  Let us all be creators and destroyers, but let us be those things in a balance that will positively affect the world around us.  Let us be one.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Be the Ripple, Change the World

     Recently, I have read Aldo Leopold's fantastic book A Sand County Almanac.  It has inspired me to write this blog.  If you have not read this book yet, I suggest that you start.  Don't try to read it all at once, for that is too overwhelming, but read it one or two essays at a time and reflect on what you think and feel about the words.
     I am going to start with an except from the book:

             "The erasure of a human subspecies is largely painless--to us-- if we know little enough about it.  A dead Chinaman is of little import to us whose awareness of things Chinese is bounded by an occasional dish of chow mein.  We grieve only for what we know.  The erasure of Silphium from western Dane County is no cause for grief if one knows it only as a name in a botany book." (pg 48)

     This is so typical for us as human beings.  Today's culture is so self-serving and unaware.  If you really think about this quote, maybe you can begin to see where Mr. Aldo Leopold was coming from.  If you were to hear of a "dead Chinaman" and you were American (I'm not picking on any one culture, for this hypothetical situation can be applied to them all) with no knowledge or awareness of anything Chinese other than the "Chinese food" that you eat, how would that death affect you?  I don't think it would, for how could it?  You don't know about this person's life.  You don't know if this man had sons or daughters or if he was the only one left in his family.  You don't know if he was considered a nuisance by others or if he was a hero.  You don't know enough details to feel connected to the death.  Even if you knew all of the details though, could you still really feel the loss without knowing the man personally?  I think not.  The only ones who can truly feel the loss are those connected to this man.  The sons or daughters left behind, the mom and dad, the brothers or sisters, those are the ones who can truly feel the loss.  The friends and coworkers, they will feel the loss as well.  They will be the ones grieving.
     Even though you cannot truly feel the anguish from the loss of this one life, should you still grieve?  It would seem heartless to some if your answer to that question was no.  The point, however, is that we do only grieve for what we know.  If a Silphium plant, as is discussed in the book, is stuck in a losing battle should we sit by and do nothing?  Would you sit by and watch a stranger die?  You may not know the importance of all the species of plants and animals, but does that give you the right to sit back and watch them all disappear?  No.  It doesn't.  Plants and animals contain a life force.  If you believe that life is something to fight for, something worth saving, why would you sit by and watch so much destruction?  Do something!  Let us raise our voices together!  We must be the change, for the world will not change without someone stepping up!  Let us lead!  We may be young, but we have ideas; we have hope!  A ripple in the water starts out very small, but over time it grows and grows.  That ripple is us!

Joy in a Death?

I wrote this back when the news had just released the details of Osama Bin Laden's death.  I want you all to really think about the quote.  Martin Luther King Jr. was a magnificent man with brilliant thoughts.  His voice is worth listening to, even though he is no longer here physically with us.

"I mourn the loss of thousands of precious lives, I can feel relief, but I will not rejoice in the death of one, not even an enemy. 'Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that."--Martin Luther King Jr.

What a triumph it is for the United States of America!  Osama Bin Laden has been killed.  While many people are celebrating his death, and maybe rightly so, how appropriate is it for us to be happy about such things?  A death is a death.  How can we be so happy in the face of such destruction?  A human life!