It was a hot July day…in early April.
Seasonal drift was now expected, in an uneasy, dystopian kind of way. Insane weather patterns cover over our ailing planet with a lunatic quilt of volatility—patterns that no one has ever seen before. But despite their intensity, the crazy floods, droughts, and wildfires barely register as a routine ache of concern for many of us.
Unless the flooding or flames are devastating our immediate vicinity, the changing climate is just too overwhelming to comprehend, so we don’t bother trying. We seem to carry an unspoken foreboding about the near future and just go about our day. Like magpies, we immerse ourselves in distractions from the shiny, technological enchantments of civilization.
I recently traveled to a mountainside in one of the remaining wild places to access my soul and reward my too-often-covered feet with the gift of sunlight and a caress from some switchgrass. Sitting at the base of an elderly aspen, I bathed in the whispering breezes that stirred the leaves above me to an easy rattle, sounding like mellow cicadas.
Sometimes, when I escape the sensory overload of the city, I believe that I can feel our Earth’s lament. I wonder how we have strayed so far from our natural alignment with her turning, how we have forgotten that, at our core, we are Earthlings before we are Christians or Americans or Democrats or Republicans.
I wish we wanted to make Earth great again.
We contrive stories about our dominion over Earth as if we are superior and somehow apart from her wondrous web of life. There is an immediate consequence when we act as if we are separate from nature, something other than Earthlings: things turn to sh*t.
When we believe humans are greater and more privileged than all the other beings sharing the planet, we end up wallowing in our own fecal matter. And we distance ourselves from the stink by labeling the different consistencies, like the Inuit label the different types of snow. Then we get college degrees, specializing in different labels for the different types of sh*t, and we claim the labels as the ultimate knowledge of things. All the while, the great gestalt that is Earth is blindly abused and depleted by our willful ignorance.
But the grasses are still with us, so there is time to remember that we are Earthlings before we are anything else. And we can realign with the Earth’s turning and find balance again if we wish to.
Overhead, a raven chopped through the wind with its drumming wings, sounding like an airy heartbeat. I looked up and smiled at the silvery black bird as she passed above. At just that instant, a shimmering feather detached itself from her tail and made elegant loops, slowly floating its way to the same patch of grass that was comforting my feet.
How wonderful to be more like a feather. So fluid and friendly with the breezes, effortlessly aligning with the many quirks of the wind, joining skillfully with whatever energy presents itself. A feather is the quintessential embodiment of flow, that state of moving grace balanced with the constant turning of Earth. How blessed to act from that place of flowing poise, which is our natural state of being as Earthlings, underneath the contrived labels.
I picked up and twirled the feather back and forth by its hollow shaft. The sun’s light intensified the magnitude of iridescent colors just beneath its black surface. It would be easy to label it as simply a black raven feather. But that would miss the subtle complexity of this testament to the ultimate turning of things. The feather was offering me a look beyond its surface, to the shared minerals, molecules, and life force that enlivened it and my body alike.
It’s time to loosen our tight grip on those contrived labels that bury life in a tomb made from convenient lies. It’s time to clear our minds of the many distractions and align with the infinite turning and expanding flow of our world, below the labels.
Sitting under the aspen, perhaps breathing in the same atoms that Siddhartha breathed in as he sat under the Bodhi Tree so long ago, I meditated on the feather. Then I asked myself one of the most powerful questions one can ask:
Where does this feather, this tree, and the surrounding breezes end and where do I begin?
The stillness of the natural world invites us to realize that our skin isn’t a boundary at all, but rather a porous playground where earth, air, fire, and water all dance together, like dervishes spinning creation. Within the stillness, we remember we are Earthlings first, joined with the motion of creation.
We are yoked together with the rest of Earth in one glorious manifestation of flesh, blood, bone, and spirit. And it is time to treat our planetary home and mother as the wondrous and infinitely mysterious expression of life that she truly is, to align with her turning. It is time to stop treating her as just our trough, toilet, and b*tch.
Author: Tod Evans
Image: Waylon Lewis/Instagram
Editor: Nicole Cameron
Copy Editor: Sara Kärpänen