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Saturday January 21, 2017
Posted: Apr 01, 2014

Amazement in an “ordinary” world

Under Current

Looking back on a year of posts, two themes weave their way throughout “Undercurrents.” First, the only species capable of flat-out destroying the beautiful & vital places on earth is man. But second, the only species that can actually appreciate and value the beautiful places of the world is man.

As a writer, and a dad, my moods tug me toward the one theme and then the other. I’ve studied enough of our shortsightedness to see how easily we bury our heads. We claim that grocery bags are immensely valuable, yet balk at paying 5 cents for them to fund anti-pollution efforts. We pull fish out of the sea at an unsustainable rate and know it, yet balk when conservation efforts try to stave off disaster.

Yet we are also the only species that can marvel at a misty sunrise on a deserted shore, clean dewy sand under our toes. We’ve learned how interconnected and interlocking the world actually is — how our rivers churn the seas, bloom phytoplankton in spring, which becomes food for the fish we eat and oxygen for the air we breathe. How the ocean is a huge conveyor belt of nutrients and heat that covers the globe and connects us all. Here in Maine we're fighting to protect our waters and wetlands, and return fish to our rivers. In our hearts, we "get" it. We’re the only creatures on the planet who do. And we are, at our best, in awe of our world.

It would be very easy for “Undercurrents” to beat a constant drum of waste, pollution, excess, gloom, industry lies. There’s enough in the world to choose from. We can’t find a downed plane for all the derelict fishing gear and other huge debris in the distant ocean. Madness.

Yet that’s not our whole story. We don’t want to harm our world. We love it, even to the point of sometimes loving it to death. We aren’t apart from our environment. We are our environment, and it supports and nurtures us. Innately we know this.

We just get caught up in our lives, and forget to be amazed. We should stop for a moment, each day, just to be struck by the natural world. The rough bark of an aged tree. The sculpture of an icy melting snowpile. The rivulets that drain a waterlogged beach at low tide.

These are the undercurrents of our actual lives. They’re all around us. If we could remember to be awestruck at what we too often call “normal,” maybe we would be better prepared to make the hard choices that are coming. Because they’re coming.

So tell me, what have you seen lately that left you in awe? What do you want to preserve?

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