My Dear Readers,
I’ve been wracking my brain over what to share with you from this past month—February came and went so quickly, like a traveling guest using you for floor space but not companionship. Looking back on those twenty eight days nothing of importance comes to mind. I’m feeling stagnant. I’m feeling the effects of seasonal depression. I’m ready for that sweet summer sun.
I’ve got several projects in the works but all seem to be taking longer than anticipated. I no longer really enjoy discussing them as I fear becoming one of those people who does just that: only discusses. I told a friend recently that I was almost done with my travel essay manuscript to which he replied, “Haven’t you been almost done for over a year now?” I was embarrassed. Still am.
I did a presentation at my local REI yesterday about the history of the National Park Service, but, more aptly, it was a history of the development of environmental ideology within the United States. It’s a hard matter for me to discuss because it’s not a hopeful one. With the more I read, with the more I research, the less optimism I feel for the future of the natural world. A man named Aldo Leopold once said, “The penalty of an ecological education is that one lives alone in a world of wounds.” I couldn’t agree more.
Anyway, I twisted and contorted the presentation to end on a positive note, but it was forced. The coming decades are going to require some unprecedented policy making over ecology that are going to forever change the United States coexistence with wilderness. My prediction is that we are going to have to start developing environmental museums creating a life-support system for some of the more notable features of our parks (sequoias, Joshua trees, saguaro cactus, etc.) to combat the effects of climate change, air pollution, and invasive species. It's going to be expensive and it’s going to therefore leave a lot of other public land without funding for protection.
The presentation went well but was not well attended. Everyone there was a baby boomer, the last fading generation that fully participated in environmentalism and outdoor recreation. Relevancy is a problem for the parks, always has been, and without a continued support of public lands they will fall into obscurity. They will lose funding. We will see more compromising issues, like the Hetch Hetchy dam, emerging in our current era.
I came up with a rad idea a couple of days ago regarding an art project for the National Park Service centennial (August 25, 2016). I’m hoping it will help reach and engage younger generations through the use of poetry, fiction, non-fiction, film, abstract art, photography, and music. It will be a multi-media collaboration focusing on the experiential opposed to the educational. It’s still a very fresh idea that needs to be sussed out, but I’ll keep you updated on the progress and most likely be asking a lot of you for participation in the project.
So I sit here, now in the first week of March, hoping for a better month. Hoping for some small victory. A payoff for all the long hours I spend working alone. I need to get out of this state. I need a trip. To be around people who know me. To feel like myself again. I’m eating my own liver over here. My fear is that I’m gonna start enjoying the taste of it.