Sunday, June 28, 2009

The Biodiversity of Being

Where The Wild Things Live
Acrylic on Matte Board
8"x 8" matted in black  image size 3.75" x 4.5"
$25 - free shipping in North America

This little textured acrylic makes me think of an outing I had last week to a place called "Quick's Bottom".  Don't you love that name?  Sounds very British and boggy, don't you think?  (Sorry, no cheap bum jokes here.) It was a fabulous sunny day and the marsh was giddy with life; hummingbirds, wrens, swallows, ducks, geese.  And the grass so tall we hardly recognized the place from our last visit in the winter.  A hawthorn was growing up to slightly obscure the view from the bird blind that we climbed.

As I stood and greedily soaked in the sun and the breeze and the wildness of it all, it dawned on me that what was hospitable terrain for me was at odds with what was hospitable to the wild things.  Their space was wet and goopy and probably filled with bugs, teeming with things unknown and unseen, squirmy, wiggly, slimy things.  The grasses and reeds were too thick and tall to make passage easy and the ground shoe sucking wet.  And it struck me how this opposition of needs between the tame and the wild is true on a wider basis in this world.  We humans go around paving, and mowing and  gentrifying the landscape in ways that we find necessary and pleasing.  And all the while we push the wild into a slimmer corridor, narrowing and eliminating the places where they can survive. 

We do this, not because we are cruel or malicious, but mostly because we are ignorant and don't pay much attention to the needs of wild things.  It is the ultimate act of collective ego, don't you think?  We humans, we are the centre of our world.  We are kind of like big dumb giants, trodding on everything in our path, unaware of the possible implications.   Our collective awareness barely registers on the richter scale and our willingness to share this planet with other life forms squares up about the same.

 And the people that make the decisions that drain wetlands and turn grasslands into malls probably don't have the time to come and stand out in the  marsh and get up close and personal with the wild things.  What a pity.  I suspect if they could slow down enough to hear the breeze sifting through the grasses or see a humming bird hold a drop of nectar on the tip of it's beak they just might make some different choices.

And does the act of simply witnessing the wild things make a difference?  I think so; in many and varied ways, just as surely as the marsh is teeming with unseen life, so the simple act of witnessing radiates out into to the world in ways we can not possibly know and understand.  It is just another form of biodiversity; the biodiversity of just being.  It doesn't stand against "doing".  We can still write our letters and go to meetings and chain ourselves to fences if we choose. And as with all aspects of the Dharma we do what seems good to do and don't measure it's "rightness" by the results we get.  And if you choose to chain yourself to some structure, remember the final line from the movie "I heart Huckabees" where one character, referring to a protest meeting, reminds the other to bring his own chains.  And the final retort is, "We always do." 

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