Friday, August 27, 2010

The Fortunate Forester

I turn 75 this month and have as much purpose and enjoyment as I have ever had. I am extremely lucky to be in this situation and want to explain, primarily for my children and grandchildren, why I feel as I do.

On the personal side I am lucky to have a loving wife who is also my best friend, three wonderful children and three wonderful grandchildren. I am healthy and active with just a few aches and pains which don't slow me down much. Absent an unsuspected major illness or accident I believe I can look forward to many years of this. That's lucky! I don't feel that I've done anything particular to deserve my good fortune, but here it is. If for some reason this all comes to an end sooner than I expect, I will still consider myself fortunate to have had the life I have had. I should be able to leave with a smile on my face.

With that said, I am highly critical of the larger culture of which I am a member. It is a pathological culture of alienation, increasingly disconnected both personally and in terms of the source of our existence. We live with the destructive results of our separation from the natural, biological world that supports us. This is a recipe for the disaster unfolding around us. We are wreaking havoc with planetary life support.

In the midst of this, the same ancient questions are ever present. From where did I come? Why am I here? What should I do? Of course I do not have the answers to these questions, but I do think I know one way to provide some measure of meaning to life, aside from the common values we hold in regards to family and treating others with respect. If we can experience a participatory consciousness and become, one again, integrated with the natural, spiritual, biological world, that connection can add life-changing meaning and direction to our time here. This is a tall order. It takes a commitment and lots of work, but we can all, in our own ways, do some healing.

So the family forest becomes much more than a pretty place, a place for recreation, a place to pass on to descendants, a place to save from a commercial timber perspective or a place to make money. It can be all of those but in a deeper sense it is a gift; a place of learning, teaching, connection and responsibility. The forest can be a place that answers, to some extent, the existential questions by moving us closer to our source.

The forest is a serious responsibility that transcends our personal lifetimes and a place that can be nurtured by generations of our descendants, enriching their lives and the lives of those who follow.