life finds a way

In the fall, I took an environmental anthropology course at the university that challenged me to examine some of my lifelong beliefs about this thing we call nature. It’s not easy to suspend one’s worldview, to fully consider arguments that are so anathema to the truths one holds to be self-evident—in my case, trying to imagine that Earth is not simply going to hell in a handbasket as a result of human abuse (case study evidence: humans and the environment have been mutually shaping and reshaping each other since the origin of our species). Or trying to deconstruct the rhetoric of the Western environmentalist agenda, or trying to view human culture as inseparable from nature. Or entertaining the question: what if climate change isn’t such a bad thing? I respected and appreciated the instructor’s efforts to engage the class with both sides of every issue. For me, this attempt at temporarily abandoning my value system was at times uncomfortable, but also long overdue, as it only served to help deepen my understanding of the relationships between humans and the non-human world and to help me better articulate my views on the matter. Not “served,” but “serves,” present tense. It’s a process.

In honor of this exercise in the cross-examination of my own ethics, and in honor of this amazingly cute wee patch of spring that brought me great joy the other day, I offer the poem below. It’s also in response to NaPoWriMo’s prompt for Day Two (here, I’m interpreting “a poem that tells a lie” as “a poem that reflects the opposite of what I truly believe”—i.e., the opposite of the last poem I wrote!) as well as Day Five’s challenge to write a cinquain.

P.S. I’m not going to apologize for not writing thirty poems in thirty days; I consider it a success that I’ve managed two so far.

Surprise!
Life finds a way
despite the odds. Suppose
we stop this fight against our own
ascent.

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9 thoughts on “life finds a way

  1. Great pic. with yr post, with the plant coming up through the concrete, and the poem, ending on ascent, is good. Here’s a link to Slavoj Zizek’s 10 min. segment in Astra Taylor’s film “Examined Life.” I thought you might like to view it. He says some surprising things about nature, climate change, and this idea of what we think about nature, and our place in nature, those long held beliefs you mention. As I was reading your post I thought of the Zizek segment – seems relevant to your discussion here:

    • Thanks so much, Joe. Yes, Zizek somehow always finds a way to be relevant—I appreciate your sharing this with me. Many of the things he said in this clip do reflect the kind of rethinking that I was doing as a result of my course. Ultimately, though, I can’t open myself up to his statement that what we need is not less alienation from “nature” but MORE. It can sound fine and good on a theoretical level, but the thing that keeps me up at night is the frightening loss of biodiversity and the cruelty to living beings that has resulted from human disengagement from our fellow creatures. I wonder if Zizek has spent time on factory farms? He doesn’t seem to have much sympathy for vegetarians…

      • Yes, he has a way of moving in surprising directions, unanticipated. I’m not familiar with his arguments on eating and food – will have to look for more on that. But in the “EL” segment, I found the question “what is nature” interesting, but I particularly liked the end of his segment, where he talks about perfection and love. If you can watch the whole film, you’ll see this theme mentioned also by Cornel West at the end, the idea that romanticism usually ends in disappointment, and so the idea is to embrace imperfection, but enough of Zizek for now. Anyway, there’s another work I thought of reading your post, but I can’t quite find it. Was going to mention it, but didn’t want to overstay my welcome, but here it is: Solzhenitsyn mentions a blade of grass, a single blade, growing out of concrete. It might be in “One Day in the Life…,” but I’m not sure, and that book is now nowhere to be found in the house. Anyway, and he sees it as the most positive thing. And it’s interesting how these images recur, Whitman’s leaves, too, for example. Enuf, or toomuch!

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