Monday, April 19, 2010

Treehugger Confessions

Over the years, I've been asked many times why I've chosen environmental science as my career path. I've never had a great answer for that. It's not something I've ever been able to put into words. For me it's just a given. Um, of course I would go into environmental science, it's what I love and I can't imagine being happy doing anything else. But how do you put love and passion into words, on paper, or as a concise answer during an interview? It's so personal to me that there are times that I get a little bashful to talk about it. Almost as if you're asking me to disclose some beautiful secret that I've stowed away for years but it seems silly and much too private to talk about it now.

What lead me to this train of thought is that I just read the most amazing passage from a book I've had for years but have never cracked open. It's called Talking on the Water by Jonathan White. I think Mom got it for me years back...but I can't recall exactly. Oddly enough, I just came to find out too that this book was written based on interviews conducted in 1983 (my birth year) with environmentalists (my passion) on a dilapidated schooner (one of my favorite recent hobbies). So I guess it's meant to be that I haven't started reading it until now.

The first interview is with Gretel Ehrlich, a writer and avid traveler with strong ties to nature. Interestingly she discusses how nature helped her heal during the loss of a loved one. This passage really speaks to me and I feel that this is one of the best descriptions of why I feel so connected to nature.

"When you're sick, the instinct is to go to bed. When you're grieving, the same instinct makes you want to find a place that is uncomplicated, accepting, and tolerant. I wanted to hook up with whatever it is that makes things live and die, and I wanted to be with people who weren't going to talk it into the ground.

Anyone who lives and works in the natural world has a tacit understanding of death. If you know about death and about how things come into life - about the joys and sorrows associated with these things - without psychologizing it to death, there's nothing more that needs to be said."

The 42 acres of hardwood forest I grew up on was the perfect hideaway when I was sad and helped me grieve the loss of my father 17 years ago. Still today, I find solace in being outdoors during times of joy and sorrow. It makes me feel alive, clear headed, and miles away from life's troubles.

Just thought I'd share something I've been trying to describe all these years. What's your emotional connection to nature?

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