On Erosive Forces

“Go wreck yourself once more against the day
and wash up like a bottle on the shore,
lucidity and salt in all you say.”
~David Mason


The less I think the more I can hold all that I feel. That’s required now, in this is a great time of feeling. Emotion, feeling, mental states, all are flaring wildly among most Americans, regardless of politics. I’m no exception. While mostly I’m confused and disappointed, anger and fear creep in and muddle my mind.

The unmapped areas that tug on me, that see me visit with some regularity, rid me of some of that mental turbidity. So I wend my way to them and sit with their empty spaces.

There is no loneliness. Isolation does not exist. Every open space that calls me, calls me to be the purest form of me. Where the left fork in the road leads to nowhere, and the right fork heads into the sky, I can stretch and fill this vessel I inhabit, to the brim with me and only me, and I am complete.

But that never lasts.

Like the water droplet that falls to earth, runs down a river to the sea, and is evaporated to form clouds before falling to earth again, my feelings seem to take on a cyclical form. Despondence accumulates and with critical mass rains down, at times bringing me to my literal knees. In open spaces those emotions can take their course. I can feel them deeply and completely, and release them,  sometimes with my own deluge of salty tears. Then being emptied of my misery, joy and wonder begin to fill the interstitial spaces of my heart.


The world is once more a place of enchantment. Clouds, trees, rocks, and bird song, saturate my cells with magic, and with a clarity of calmness I know I must seek more of it. Further down dirt roads and higher toward the sky Mother Earth keeps pulling, and I obey her. Lack of oxygen matters not as she shows me some of her oldest most tenacious tenants.

barb-nov-2016-075They say that Bristlecone Pines don’t experience senescence; they never die of old age, they are only killed. It’s the same with joy and hope. Sadly, the more wonder I feel the more I start to worry about what’s at stake. Changing climate conditions may steal the precise conditions required by the Bristlecone. The shrinking of their already limited range creates a sprint between their ability to adapt and the time it takes for them to do so. Things like this just seed my dark clouds of anguish. I worry about who will win. I worry if the trees are already out of time.

Slowly the cumulous gloom starts forming again. Elation over the grand and miniscule details of nature slink off as somber realizations about climate change and extinction eventually form great thunderhead anvils of sadness.


The cycle goes on and on. It has for years and like the water cycle it may be perpetual. So, I work to be at peace with those feelings. It must be natural for me to feel great joy and great sadness. I can accept that. What I can’t do is be at peace with how those feelings are formed. The seed of my clouds, the core reason for my melancholy, is the deja vu of humanity’s great inattention to the problems we’re creating. It’s just so difficult to understand.barb-nov-2016-162

I can understand the nature of geologic time. The slow progress of erosion creates magnificent rock features at a usually imperceptible pace. Boulders, spires, hoodoos, mountains: all carved away from solid rock with Mother Nature’s greatest patience. Sometimes a whole hillside cuts loose in an eye blink but often it’s one grain of sand falling at a time.

But I keep hoping, beyond hope, that behavioral change in response to the unfolding human-caused planetary damage comes as a landslide. I don’t know how much more deja vu I can handle…but, it’s not me I worry about. I don’t know how much more deja vu Earth can handle before we render it uninhabitable for our own kind (sadly and immorally taking many other species with us.)


Amid the geologic scale of a time and a place, I am dwarfed. A grain of sand I am. Falling from a slab of humanity to do my part to form a new structure. With that thought hope starts anew. For if wind and water can carve Mount Everest from the Himalayan batholith then perhaps there’s hope for me to have an impact, hope for my voice to matter. Perhaps the grain I represent in humanity’s pluton is the grain holding back a massive rockfall. Whatever the case, that grain requires help from nature’s forces in order to fall: wind, rain, ice, sun. In other words, a whole spectrum of emotion.

So, as the inevitable emotional typhoon approaches, and dire flash flood warnings inhabit my psyche, I’ll connect again with the reality of natural things, aware that advocacy like erosion requires some discomfort. Aware that discomfort can be a catalyst for change. In order to listen to my purest self, and find a way to speak my one true voice, I’ll learn to draw on my clouds for motivation. It is after all the rain from the densest of clouds that most easily activates the erosive process.