I wrote a post nearly 10 years ago, on the blog that eventually became the book Woodland Manitou: To Be on Earth that basically just listed a bunch of things I didn’t like about the world with a bunch of things I did like about the world. That particular entry didn’t make it into the book, but today I got nostalgic and clicked into that old blog, and there it was. Ten years later, the basic idea of the post still rings true, so here’s a slightly modified version, because I wrote the original before anybody I knew had a smart phone. And we all know how things changed when lots of people got smart phones.
The “no thanks” list:
screens. pavement. harsh lights. clicking. automobiles. fuel oil. business. morebetterfaster. distraction. quality assurance. uncompromising. industrialization. red number 5. processed corn. scrolling. wires. noise. inequality. defeat. white supremacy. competition. colonization. dog racing. banks. media. TV. debt. SO MANY ADS. shopping malls. AI. MOA. IKEA. GMOs. plastic. productivity. cancer. the military budget. feed-lots. fast food. high heels. the interstate. numbness. apathy. mining. uncomfortable but stylish furniture. airport security. Fitbits. the American health care system. curating an image. hurrying. feelings of disconnection. isolation. stepping around important issues. toxic positivity.
So, those are words that describe some of what I don’t particularly care for in modern life. It’s good to get that out now and then, right? Just to make sure you are on the same page as yourself. And then it’s important to follow such a list with words that describe the good, with what makes you glad to be alive and breathing on this earth, with what makes you ache with love for the world.
owls. rainbows. thunder. moonlight. togetherness. music. gentle sounds. wood. aspen leaves. clear water. pebbles. prairie grass. tomato plants. apple trees. rocky trails. canoes. movement. breath. stillness. snow. faith. room for doubt. bread ovens. birds. foxes. skin on skin. snails. books. healthy soil. gardens. solitude. the scent of pine on a hot day. farmer’s markets. pottery. wool. goats. chickens. trust. mountains. jack in the pulpit. fairy houses in old logs. courage. noticing the details. wild geese. deer walking up the hillside as dusk falls on the lake. blueberry stained fingers. belonging. children who see god in unexpected places. fiddle head ferns uncurling in spring. holding hands. being seen. seeing others. a gasp of delight, no matter the reason. red-winged blackbird trills. wildflowers in highway ditches. healers. peace makers. truth tellers. tall-grass prairie. listening. days with no pings. forest creatures rustling leaves. ordinary rituals. wind in white pines. people who really listen. homemade ice cream and cookies. soreness from a day of chopping wood or planting a garden. wood heat. skiing across a frozen lake into the sunrise. baby animals of all sorts. filtered sunlight. feeling all feelings.
I didn’t really want to spend much time on my list of what I don’t like about the world at large, but I could go on for a long, long time about what makes me ache with love for that very same world. In a culture that spends a lot of time on what’s wrong, I want to spend more time on what’s beautiful and right. There is much work to be done, and I’m inclined to think keeping our gaze firmly on the sort of energy that helps a wildflower grow in the ditch between 6 lanes of pavement is what’s going to keep us from despair and inaction. The capacity to notice and appreciate the gaze of an owl might just be some of the world’s best medicine.
What’s on your list of things that invite you into a wild love for the world?