A Hope of Bluebirds

DSCF4759The affairs of humanity can certainly make us sad some days, can’t they? I’m trying hard to hang onto hope, a vow I made as the New Year rang in. I’ve promised myself I’ll counter negativity by choosing thoughts and actions that offer my spirit peace, which engenders my creativity more fluidly than giving in to despair or misanthropy, tempting as they may be.

DSCF4720When I feel overcome by the news of plane crashes, wars, crooked politicians, and the relentlessly avoided but vitally necessary triage we must offer our hemorrhaging planet, I’ve promised to look for reasons to hope and actions I can take, however infinitesimally small, to heal the world.

DSCF4729It can be hard to sustain much hope some days.

Trudging through a March snowstorm earlier this week, I was gifted with a sudden downrush and uplift of bluebirds…I don’t know their collective name, but I would offer “a presence,” “a beauty” or “a joy” of bluebirds. Unfortunately, my coat, sweatshirt, gloves, and camera lens were all soaked from the heavy, wet snow, so all I can offer is “a blur of bluebirds.”

DSCF4741But the stunning and unexpected encounter left me lightened and hopeful.

Earlier that morning, I’d come across this recent article, by Eric Holthaus, at Slate.com, which describes dramatic climate change and its effect in the state of Alaska, serving as a kind of bellwether for the rest of the planet.

DSCF4685It seems like every day, more data is published by scientists who are most eager for the rest of us to care enough about the earth that we stop what we’re doing and change, dramatically, the definition of what we need to be happy and how we infinitely produce, appropriate, consume, and cast off material goods on our finite planet.

DSCF4695It’s not as exciting a problem to the general populace, I fear, as Bruce Jenner’s transgender shift, or which team might win the NCAA Championship. Climate change presents an almost-overwhelming amount of data and difficulties, of course, but we’ve become so skilled at giving away our power to solve the challenges we face and at denying the existence of anything that requires us to curb our ravenous consumption, that we use our considerable collective energy and gifts to avoid and run away from truth, rather than facing it, rolling up our sleeves, and doing the hard work of transformation and healing that the earth and our existence require.

DSCF4822We know the time to change is evaporating as quickly as the polar ice caps, but we put it off, anyway. Until when? There is no hero who will save us; we are all responsible for the waste, greed, and self-interest that brought us here, and each of us is vital to its solution.

DSCF4849I do not understand humanity. I sometimes think we’re a virus the earth needs to destroy, and increasingly soon, in order that she and her other inhabitants and systems might thrive.

DSCF4404That’s what led to my blue mood last Monday, when I walked through the (very) late March snowstorm. It’s tricky, living through a Wisconsin March, to know if any given day is “typical,” as the autumnal and spring equinox periods of the year frequently ride into our land like royalty surrounded by the vivid highs and lows of noisy and dramatic courtiers. One day snow; the next, a veritable summer.

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DSCF4886But, we do know that in our part of the state, we’re already hovering between meteorological designations of “Abnormally Dry” and “Drought,” due to the extra 15 inches of snow that “normally” fall during the winter months, and this year, did not. We know temperatures have been “colder than average” these past two months.

DSCF4833We know that species of pollinators (honeybees, monarchs) and plants are diminishing. We know that migratory patterns are altering, to the detriment of fellow species within our earth community, if we could see them as such.

DSCF4816But we do nothing to change or to help. We stomp our little human feet and immaturely cry, “No!” whenever a suggestion of sacrifice or change is made. We blame others. We refuse to imagine and then create new systems that would allow us to live in greater harmony with the rest (the majority, by the way) of the earth.

DSCF4973Seeing the bluebirds refocused me. They reminded me that hopeful actions are far more important at this point than dwelling in a gloom of inactivity. One way I counter my creeping despair is to name things that give me hope.

My students:

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DSCF4920

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DSCF4933My fellow creatures and their endurance:

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DSCF4907

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DSCF4984My gardens:

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254850_1904491026042_1654765807_1863734_6018829_nOne way I take responsibility for change is to focus on what I do well and share it. I write effectively. So, here is a template of a letter anyone may copy and send to someone in elected office or a leadership position (an employer, a church official, a queen, a parent, a friend, yourself) to encourage the shift that must happen if we are to cooperate in saving the planet.

 Dear ___________,

Because you are in a position of leadership, you bear the responsibility for contributing to the welfare of those you serve. I’m writing to urge you to use that power by risking its loss through facing the very real threats to your constituents (employees, church members, subjects, children, etc.) and the planet, that are posed by the climate changes now occurring, and those increasingly likely to occur.

Please have the courage to examine the processes of resource procurement, and any production, and waste creation within your scope and responsibility, for ways these might be eliminated altogether, or altered, so as to nurture the health of the earth and all her species.

Please have the courage to create and enforce rules, laws, and systems that prohibit behaviors that endanger the health of the earth and all her species.

Please have the courage to question everything you manage and the choices that govern this management in the light of their impact upon the health of the earth and all her species.

Please have the courage to listen to those who have made their life’s work the study of the earth and her health, and to avail yourself of their expertise when creating and realizing change.

None of these requests come under the banners of easy or popular; none will likely allow you to pay back those who granted you the power you wield; none ensure long years of job security. All, as stated, require courage, which begins in the heart. A true leader loves those served more than the power—or wealth—that come with authority.

My requests do not come without my pledge to support you in making these changes, which I believe are more urgent and in need of discussion and implementation than anything previously faced by those who inhabit our planet.

Sincerely,

­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­_______________

Feel free to edit the letter or write your own, but do send it on, and then use your own unique gifts to alter the course of climate change and/or our response to it. I guarantee you, it will do wonders for your hope quotient and the peace of your spirit.

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 “…You will find greater peace of mind

Knowing there’s a bluebird of happiness.

And when he sings to you,

Though you’re deep in blue,

You will see a ray of light creep through…”

 ~ Bluebird of Happiness: Lyrics by Edward Heyman and Harry Parr Davies; music by Sandor Harmati, 1934.

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6 thoughts on “A Hope of Bluebirds

  1. I feel exactly the same as you, and as you say it’s easy to despair, each day brings some horror story or other and where climate change is concerned most leaders are blinkered. It’s real and the effects are being felt worldwide yet little is done. Each one of us can make a difference in terms of power used, products bought and general waste and it is vital that we take responsibility…..
    I loved your letter and your determination to be proactive and positive whatever! I shall copy this and use it so thank you for that, I have approached all those asking for my vote in the coming election it’s the perfect time to question them re issues such as climate change….your letter will also be useful for me to add to petitions I sign, it’s good to actually do something, however small it feels!
    That article is shocking….
    I love your creatures and your students…..so many reasons for me to smile!!!! Here’s to eternal hope….xxx

    • We are kindred spirits when it comes to loving life, my sweet friend, and that companionship and sense that there are many who care as we do, is what, more then anything, gives me hope.

      The little things one person can do certainly feel unbelievably small, but, as you say, Dina, if we all pitch in, that’s a lot of combined effort, and I know that many, many people–including you–work almost tirelessly for the earth and her creatures.

      I walk my little piece of the trail, about 2.5 miles either way from my home, and pick up all the cans, bottles, and rubbish winter snowmobilers and summer bikers and hikers have tossed along the trail. It takes a few days and involves a good bit of scratches from raspberry and rose thorns, but it feels good to get it done. I always think, “Who cares?” But I know I do, and if everyone could serve as a kind of sacristan to a bit of earth they love, what a difference that would make. (I also think, “Who the hell goes for a walk or ride and just tosses their waste to the side of a trail? What do they think becomes of it?)

      Thank you for holding your place on the planet with such grace, wisdom, and love. 🙂 You are an inspiration.

  2. Dear Kitty, as always, your photos manage to communicate the depth of your relationship to the environment and to nature, and are a great pleasure to behold. And reading this post, I find myself agreeing with a lot of what you say, but also disagreeing on certain points. Of course, I respect your opinion and your approach even when I disagree. My opinion is that you’ve tied to phenomena together which might very well not be connected. I agree with you that waste, and careless befouling of the environment, and consumerism as a way of life are all unhealthy to human beings. In my eyes, simplicity is the path to truly appreciate this life, and enables us to appreciate others and the world around us. But I am not at all sure that the global warming is the result of human behavior. There were ice ages and hot periods long before humans became central players on this planet. And I believe there is every reason to believe that such climate changes will continue to happen in this world. There is a chance that we might be able to harness our understanding of science and technology to allow us to survive the changes, regardless of whether they were caused by the collective exhaust of motor vehicles or by changes on the surface of the sun, or other causes. In any case, those of us who work for a better world can bring an addition of comfort and enlightenment to our own little worlds, and that too is a gift to ourselves and to our fellow man.

  3. Thank you so much for this thoughtful and timely response, Shimon. I also respect our mutual right to disagree and to share other views. I relish it as a way to ponder issues more deeply. I’m also appreciative of your continued encouragement of my photography; there is no doubt in my mind that you are the master and I the student of that discipline. 🙂

    I agree, Shimon, that there are scientifically established alterations in the earth’s climate throughout history; the dramatic changes over the course of our lifetimes–but more specifically, the human acceleration of the “greenhouse effect” over the past 250 years, however, are not within the established parameters of these historical patterns. (See these articles for background: http://www.theguardian.com/environment/climate-consensus-97-per-cent/2014/sep/15/97-vs-3-how-much-global-warming-are-humans-causing and http://climate.nasa.gov/causes/)

    There is still much to learn and understand, but not the time to leisurely continue our practices as they exist and are entrenched, so I guess I’d rather err in encouraging our species to stop its consumption and pollution, and renew its efforts to conserve and discover new ways of living in harmony with the earth as she is, than placate and soften the implications for human responsibility while the planet’s clock ticks.

    I think we agree, though, on much more than we do not, Shimon. Regardless of the causes, which may never be teased out with 100% accuracy, here we are. Renewing our commitment to a life lived with greater regard for the earth’s need to conserve her limited resources, to flourish through ALL her various species, environments, and habitats, and respecting human needs while encouraging our creative gifts in accomplishing these things are where my hopes, prayers, and actions are focused.

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