My country is my country even when it makes me sad

Facebook is a miraculous site. Through it, I keep in touch at least provisionally, with many, many more friends than would otherwise be possible. Through my news feed I can maintain a running commentary on my friends reading habits and be exposed to media documents I might otherwise never see. To keep things in perspective, though, my engagement with most everything that crosses my screen is pretty superficial.

Serendipity plays a large role in what I end up watching. My friends are pretty prolific with the videos, audio, links, essays, poems, etc. Just last week, I saw a link to something on the New York Times website, and while I was there, I picked up a story that has had deep and rather persistent impact on my outlook since I began following it. Most of the media I encounter on a daily basis is pretty superficial. Rarely have I seen anything that is as disturbing as this. Since I first watched this clip, I’ve been besieged with memories and hints of stories yet to be written. Read the rest of this entry »

Where I came from

In the suburbs again — at Chris’s parents’ house for their Father’s Day wing-ding.

My life with plants is a strange one, indeed.  How is it that seeing the familiar rust-red plumes atop sumac shrubs can excite me so?  What would it be like to have no clue of the significance of my delighted exclamation, “We’re is Sumac country!”  (I suspect most people would sympathize with Chris’s puzzled answer: “Poison sumac?”)

I always aspire to learn more and more about wild plants and their cultivated cousins.  Yet, I know quite a bit already, if you want to know the truth.  One can always learn more and more, but I am not without knowledge as it is.

How do I focus among the vast fields of knowledge of which I can avail myself?

Well, I don’t want to be a botanist or a taxonomist for their own sake.  Identification is crucial, but I only need so much knowledge of identification to know an edible, medicinal, or ethnobotanically significant plant when I see one.  I must learn proper identification for safety’s sake, but beyond that, I’ll leave botany and taxonomy to the experts.

Yet, in the six years since I wrote that, I have come to believe differently.  Identification is so crucial — and the lack of understanding of the subtle differences between varieties of plants has probably contributed to society being where it is now.   Read the rest of this entry »

A Reading From “The Lost Notebooks of Loren Eiseley”

Loren Eiseley was an early 20th century Renaissance man of sorts.  When he was young, he hopped trains and hitchhiked around the country.  Later he became an anthropologist and taught at the University of Pennsylvania.  Widely regarded as one of the great naturalists and essayists of our time, Eiseley left behind a rich legacy of writings: poems, essays, proto-science fiction, and journals.

When I was in highschool, I was introduced to a wonderful book, a collection of his personal journals, entitled, The Lost Notebooks of Loren Eiseley. My friend Adam T. was reading it one day during lunch, and I found myself enraptured by the cover — a colored pencil drawing of a very intense, inward-looking young man whose eyes seemed focused on  something otherworldly,  something I wanted to know for myself.  I checked the book out of the library as soon as it was available, and shortly after, ordered it at a local bookstore.

As I suspected, I was riveted to its pages and to this day, am very influenced by Eiseley’s vision and style.

from The Lost Notebooks of Loren Eiseley:

“Why does the sound of the sea trouble my heart, or the sight of wolves in cages cause me to avert my eyes?…. The net closes; I age, but still I look sidelong for escape.  I yearn persistently for the road across the starfields that I will never live to wander.” (p228)

“…I wanted to find it, to visit my own grave, where, when we purchased it years ago, I had stretched out on the plot to look at the autumn sky and to think this will sometime be forever, though nothing, geologically speaking, ever is.” (p240)

To read more about Loren Eiseley, check out the Wikipedia bio:

For information on the current state of interest in Loren Eiseley, try the Loren Eiseley Society page:

An Awesome Success Story (via News)

Here’s a great example of the power of positive thinking! Blogger Neil Pasricha set out to record one positive thing each week day to help himself keep a positive outlook. Now he’s earned awards for his efforts and has published a well-received book called “The Book of Awesome”.

An Awesome Success Story When Neil Pasricha started his blog, 1,000 Awesome Things, he decided to highlight one awesome thing each weekday to help him keep a positive outlook. That was three years ago, and now, the awesomeness just keep rolling on in for Neil: He has not only become a successful blogger and earned three Webby awards, he also can consider himself a critically acclaimed author.  “The Book of Awesome” went on sale last month and was warmly rec … Read More

via News

A Reading from Empire of the Soul

from Empire of the Soul by Paul William Roberts, p61-62

“Who am I?  Where did

I come from and how?  Who

is my real maker?  Who is my


— Adi Sankaracharya, 16th c.

“Adi Sankaracharya’s fundamental query really summed up Ramana Maharshi’s meditational method.  You dwelt relentlessly on these five questions and, if your efforts were hard and sincere enough, you finally realized the Truth.  The Marharshi eventually reduced the query to three points: Who am I?  Why am I?  Where am I going? It was the nondualistic path, the path of jnana, or knowledge.  It required fierce and rigorous mental discipline.  Perhaps that formidable intellect was what I felt still energizing his room.  The endrest of jnana yoga was supposed to be the realization that the Self, the universe, and God are one.  The All is the One.”

6 August 00 ~6:23 am Sunday