Day 16: Simple. Not Simple.

Some things are simple pleasures.

For instance, the world let me in on a coffee secret and I’ll never be the same. Apparently a New York City favourite from way back, at 7 coppers a cup it’s the best cup of coffee I’ve ever had. Ah, pure simple pleasure.

This morning, my friend identified at least ten distinct varieties of cacti within a 100 feet of our vans, and discovered we were sharing our site with a pack rat family. Simple delight is appreciating subtle differences in nature and finding what you are looking for in a new field book. 🙂

Not having room in my van for such a system, I typically only wash my hair when I have a shower (1-2 X a week) or I use a simple basin, and pour-over “method” with a cup. On the road, I usually just use hot water and a washcloth to take the dust out of my hair every couple days, but today I got a lather. Simple pleasure is having the wind provide a blow dry – no extra charge.

I got to try out a modified weed-sprayer pump to wash my hair. The system involves a new, two-gallon weed-sprayer, painted the outside black and leait in the sun to warm, and hand-pumped to pressurize. Oh, was it was warm!

Simple pleasure is a local festival with a midway and music and meeting up with a friend from the RTR. It’s laughing kids and really tasty tacos at a local food truck. It’s fresh-squeezed lemonade

Simple is an afternoon nap and noticing how Pippa has become so content to sit around the fire while we make dinner over the coals. It’s a friend who joins us around the fire, to talk about the many gifts of this life, and an owl, telling us it’s time to turn in.

What isn’t simple are the thoughts I am left with as I prepare to end this day. Thoughts about the tension between caring for the environment and living in this complex, highly industrialized, polarized and digitized world.

I’m struggling to write about what I’ve learned about the mining industry in this area, and how it is affecting the Apache people, who are mobilizing to protect their ancestral land. And how it is unsettling to some residents here who are concerned that if the mine project proceeds, the water and land will no longer be able to sustain any of the people who now call it home.

What isn’t simple is knowing how to process this information. How to sit with it, understand it and find some sort of meaningful position when faced with it. Other than hopelessness, anger or being overwhelmed. How to interact with it, in some way other than “observer.”

How to find clarity without judgment. How to celebrate mining in this small town alongside them, while feeling simultaneously unsettled and concerned for the land and water.

How do I heal the feelings of shame, fear and hypocracy when caring about the earth means taking a look at the personal decisions I make each day? When they are hard to sustain, and don’t always seem to make a difference. When I don’t always act in ways that I believe are gentlest.

When I feel so small but at the same time am in an entirely privileged position to leave these essential issues to others who suffer directly. How do I transform these life-sucking emotions into affirmative, powerful acts of hopefulness? How do I do this in a way that leaves me stronger; not overwhelmed and of no help to anyone?

Every day, indigenous people around the world gather to join forces against reckless corporate action, environmental groups rally to be a voice for animals and plants at risk of extinction and individuals do what they feel they can to not be a part of hurting the Earth; the Mother who holds the only key to our ultimate survival. Many devote their lives to protecting it. I am asking myself, how do I allowing my life with what I care for? How can I help?

Today I needed to write about having been in a state of dis-ease about these social tensions for the better part of a week, and even as I share the beautiful detail evident in nature and relay the simple joys I find on the road, I am being asked to check my thinking, challenge my assumptions, recognize my privilege and learn some new things about the world around me and the people I share it with. I’m being asked to step out of my comfort zone.

Simple. Not simple.


4 thoughts on “Day 16: Simple. Not Simple.

  1. Up here in Washington, logging took a big hit once conservationists could show that spotted owl habitat was being destroyed. I was in Arizona last year for one week. We did drive up through mining towns and I was shocked. I thought “does no one stop these wealthy barons. Bring close to retirement myself, I’m thinking about how to put positive energy into my big beef and always has been – litter. It shocks me. I hope to CLEAN THE STREETS, HWY’s and BYWAY’s!

  2. Good blog- I hear you- tough questions. In this case miners need jobs, but what they do is at the expense of the land and health of the people who l8ve and rely on the land. I’m of the opinion that the answer could possibly lie somewhere in the middle. For example is there some form of mining less harmful and could it be restricted to smaller operations. Instead of large corporations gouging with no respect for the land and people. Is it not possible for progress to happen in a more balanced, respectful way? I am accused of being a Pollyanna, but firmly believe that there is often a middle ground that is not considered, when sides are drawn and no one is willing to compromise. As for our part – sometimes all we can do is show that we care and be respectful. Be a good listener is sometimes all we can do.

I love to hear from you :)