Excerpts from the final essay of Gary Snyder’s book The Practice of the Wild (1990). The essay’s title is “Survival and Sacrament.”
It’s not that I agree or disagree with everything written by Mr. Snyder, but rather something in these snippets poked at me. While reading, I frowned and I chuckled. I was surprised, hopeful and somber after reading this book and I look forward to discussing it with my daughter, who is also reading it as part of our 2-person book club!
“It is said that about a million and a half species of animals and plants have been scientifically described, and that there are anywhere from ten to thirty million species of organisms on earth. Over half of all the species on earth are thought to live in the moist tropical forests (Wilson, 1989, 108). About half of those forests, in Asia, Africa, and South America, are already gone. (At the same time there are seven million homeless children on the streets of Brazil. Are vanishing trees being reborn as unwanted children?) A clearcut or even a mile-wide strip-mine pit will heal in geological time. The extinction of a species, each one a pilgrim of four billion years of evolution, is an irreversible loss. The ending of the lines of so many creatures with whom we have traveled this far is an occasion of profound sorrow and grief. Death can be accepted and to some degree transformed. But the loss of lineages and all their future young is not something to accept. It must be rigorously and intelligently resisted.”
When Women Were Birds, by Terry Tempest Williams, found its way to the top of my book pile last week. Terry writes with great power here and while the backbone of this work is what she is exploring and expressing about womanhood and her relationship with her mother, there is so much more.
This is my first exposure to Williams and she has hooked me. This writing transcends gender and speaks to my humanity. She has touched me.
From Chapter (Variations of Voice) XXVII:
“Because what every woman knows each month when she bleeds is, I am not pregnant. Because what every woman understands each time she makes love is, Life could be in the making now. Which is why when a woman allows a man to enter her, it is not just a physical act, but an act of surrendering to the possibility that her life may no longer be hers alone. Because until she bleeds, she will check her womb every day for the stirrings of life. Because until she bleeds, she wonders if her life will be one or two or three. Because until she bleeds, she imagines every possibility from pleasure to pain to birth to death and how she will do what she needs to do, and until she bleeds, she will worry endlessly, until she bleeds.
If a man knew what a woman never forgets, he would love her differently.”
Suncatcher…I love that word.
I love words (portmanteau or otherwise) and phrases that result from the pounding together of unlikely pairs by the hammer of the wordsmith (<—- like that one!).
Noun, verb, adjective and any other technical element of language, pressed together in space and time to rouse my mind when I convert the linear to the non-linear.
These words produce a discordant wave that rises from the surface of the linguistic wastelands to knock me off my feet, wake me up and drive a spear down deep into my chthonic recesses.
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Filed under Musings, Writing