I feel happiest, most at peace, when I am living with a deep connection to the land

I firmly believe that profound thought should be shared. So from time-to-time I like to pass along the thoughts of those living special lives committed to maintaining contact with the Wild. Below is part of a recent post from Daven Hafey from Juneau, AK. You can read more from Daven on his blog.

The night before, Scott and I found ourselves on top of a mountain discussing the growing disconnect between humans and the land. Depression, apathy, complacency, and expectancy seem to be omnipresent in North America, and I suggested this had something to do with the current lack of connection between humans and the land. Most people would deny this suggestion, arguing that a connection to the land is romantacized and outdated. These same people assume the land is solely a commodity needed to be developed, insist there is no need to maintain a connection with it beyond exploitation, and ignore the priceless free systems that a healthy environment offers a community. Others would simply be oblivious of the disconnect and want to change the subject. If you’re skeptical, try to think about the number of corporate logos you recognize. Now name as many species of tree as you can in your community. Peter Forbes observed that the average American can recognize over 1,000 corporate logos, but cannot name three species of tree in their own city. How’s that for disconnect?

So Scott and I wrapped up our night in an aspen grove under crystal clear Alaskan skies with a couple Whitehorse-brewed IPA’s. A couple souls in the trees, hoping to distance ourselves as far from for-profit interest as possible. Searching for autonomy, authenticity, real and uncommercialized experience. Scott and I continued, changing the subject to the question of happiness. We talked about our genuinely happy friends with rich souls in Alaska, Montana, Wyoming, Utah, Colorado, and even Nebraska. Friends who have gardens growing fresh kale, chard, carrots, squash, berries, apples and more. Friends who put halibut, crab, salmon, or trout on their plates in the summer, who have elk or moose meat on the dinner table throughout the winter. Friends who revere and embrace approaching storms, who aren’t afraid of the changing seasons. Friends that understand the value of rich soil, clean water, and strong connections with public land. We talked about the free systems a healthy environment provides: clean water without the need of expensive filtration and purification systems. Rich soils full of bugs, birds, and natural humus that doesn’t need expensive synthetic fertilization. Biodiversity, allowing people to supplement their store-bought food with fresh fish, red meat, birds, and wild berries. Clean air. And a community full of people that understands the importance of the land surrounding them. I told Scott that I feel happiest, most at peace, when I am living with a deep connection to the land, and that I wished I could share that feeling with everyone I know. We sat on top of that ridge talking about such things, overlooking a rich valley crawling with ungulates and running with clean water. Two happy souls, absorbing the evening’s final warmth from a cold alpine sunset.

 

Coming down from the ridge after the sun tucked itself behind the Wrangell Range, we talked about how our world has come to the point it has….What’s interesting is the fact that the very people trying to right the ship are the ones most publicly marginalized. People working to protect clean, drinkable water are marginalized as radical environmentalists. People advocating literacy and strong foundations in ethics are marginalized as elitists. People fighting for common decency, fair wages, and job security in the workplace are marginalized as leftists and socialists. People struggling to maintain possession of their indigenous land or basic rights like accessible, clean water are marginalized as terrorists. And people shouting the loudest in support of for-profit corporations are heralded as patriots.So we walked and talked. Private interest controlling political campaigns, federal and state level legislation, and the media. A combined manifestation of Orwell and Huxley’s prophecies, here and now and in the flesh.

We talked about the complexities and interconnectedness of the economy, of natural resources, of private interest vs. public service and a healthy middle class, of the commercialization of human existence. Of the undeniable importance of education and ethics and how they’re being marginalized for the sake of Wall Street. We talked as we meandered back to our clean, spartan, creekside camp. The situation is far more complex than just these thoughts. We’d just covered the tip of the iceberg. But we agreed that a good start to getting things back on track is to help people remember the importance of the land. What we do has consequences. Our actions tangibly affect the land around us, and anybody who believes otherwise is living under an illusion. When people begin to remember the importance of our actions and their environmental ramifications, people will begin to remember the importance of a healthy biotic community, healthy watersheds, clean water, clean air, and robust biodiversity. And when we have a healthy environment, we can have sustainable industries providing jobs that help stimulate a local economy, a real community.

I sat next to our fire and our creek looking through the aspen branches at Venus, shining brighter than I’ve ever seen her before. And I shared a few laughs with a good friend in the woods.

Clarity.

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