As I gazed upon one year old twins, I think about my own youth. Once, I was the baby on the crib, nurtured by parents who provided for my needs, sheltered me from the elements, protected me from harm. As I grew older, they grew older and so it is with every person, of every generation. We are like the sun, first rising slowly, lighting a path on a dark planet. Slowly but surely it rises higher and higher, and soon enough it reaches its zenith. Then slowly it starts to sink towards the horizon and when the last light of twilight is extinguished, the world turns dark again.
And yet, I could not escape the thought the sun is but one star in the firmament. Each of us, as we grow older, as we climb higher in the horizon, begins to blot out other things in the sky. And yet, elsewhere in the heavens, other stars continue to shine. And I am heartened to think that each one of us, each of our ancestors, is a star. Even as our lives shine bright and we become the center of our universe and seemingly outshine other lights around us, the stars are always there. And so it is that I remember my father and mother, now gone. And grandparents. And uncles and aunts, and the many people who came before me, who came before them. In the evening, before I sleep, I look at the window and see the stars that are always there. They are never truly gone. And if we listen carefully, we can still hear the voices within them. They can still teach us. If we let them. In our dreams we are in some ways always children, always protected, always loved. Awake, we know that life and love are eternal, shining forever, in the heavens around us.
Many people obsess about keeping the subject of their photograph in focus. How every part of the image has to be sharp. How great the bokeh is. And all that stuff. Sometimes, you just have to take a picture that you have in your mind. And if that means the subject is not in focus, then so be it. Is everything sharp? Is that what’s really important? Photography is about light. And a photograph is something that makes you feel something. The sharpest lens on the best camera in the world? No, but I like what I saw through the lens of my camera. Pictures of the setting sun, even when though the sun is not in focus. It makes me appreciate the beauty of the world around us.
I look up a pink hued sky
And my heart beats in rhythm
With nature’s beauty, enveloping me
With warmth in the still cold April day
I gaze upward, and in the midst of the cherry canopy
I see a flower, standing still, yet moving me
My soul trembles with joy
And for a moment, an instant
The spirit of love overwhelms me
And my heart, changed, is finally free
Embraced by an ephemeral beauty
That lasts an eternity
When you find someone that makes life worthwhile
You remember that God created all of us for a purpose
And in the wonder of creation, He made sure
That each person can find Him
In the eyes, in the smile, in the heart
Of those that they hold most dear
We who are Created in His Image
Celebrate the true meaning of Creation
It is not to glorify one’s self
Nor is it to seek attention to one’s self
But to give one’s self in service of the other
Selflessness, you see
Is the revelation of the Truth
That above all else in the Universe
It is love, shared, that makes us whole
One of the interesting things to see at Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge is the nuclear power plant in the not so far off distance. It is a tribute to nature’s resilience and diversity that one of the symbol’s of mastery of the resources available to him is readily seen in what is a reminder of the place that we live in. The little blue marble that hangs like a jewel in the night, that delicate ball of water, minerals, air, the third planet from a smallish yellow main sequence star, the rock that we call Earth. To walk at Bombay Hook is to appreciate nature’s gift to man. A place of beauty, a place teeming with life, a place that must be nurtured if it is continue to be a dwelling place for all the creatures that live and visit there. A place that is a microcosm of the ecosystems around the world that we live in. We have diverse environments around the world, many of which are threatened by unbridled and undisciplined human activity. Why do we throw out so much plastic every day, every year? What happened to water fountains? Or at least that reusable jug that we carried water in? We think that the most visible and egregious symbols of environmental destruction are the wanton release of hydrocarbons in the air, the precursor to an unstoppable, runaway greenhouse effect that will doom the planet into a Venus like existence. The nuclear plants that can release dangerous radiation into the air are often seen as threats to the world we live in. And yet, they are efficient power generators that provide the electricity to millions of people and make industry and technological advances possible. There are arguments for eliminating or at least reducing our reliance on systems that threaten the health of our world. Lost in the discussion is something that we see with our eyes every day. Our disposable society has made as much of a negative impact on the health of the planet as any other man made “intervention.”
I have some training in science and engineering. I believe that someday, we will be able to remove gases from the air to lessen the effects of global warming. We will be able to generate power more efficiently, more cleanly (though I worry about migrating birds running into vast power generating turbines on the shores and in the open fields). And yet, will the climatic changes that are currently under way be stemmed (or reversed) by some future scientific endeavor? Also, the debate presupposes that we have all the facts and that the answers are already clear (when it comes to the global warming debate). I have some questions still. How much of the perceived global warming is an artifact of human activity and how much of it can be attributed to a natural cycle that we do not understand? The sun’s radiation output is not uniform. Random events that release dust and gas into the atmosphere (volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, meteor strikes) have short and long term effects on the environment. If we pass through a “dusty” part of the galaxy, will there be a measurable drop in the amount of solar radiation that reaches the planet and what effect will it have on life? So many questions left to be asked. And answered.
All I know is that we must be better stewards of the world that we live in. Higher efficiency power generation, less reliance on fossil fuels and nuclear power plants. Less pollution, more recycling. The mantras of today’s environmental movement. All good things. And yet, we can start our own revolution at home. Use less water when washing clothes. Use less plastics. You say they are bio degradable? If they take hundreds of years to degrade, is that really harmless? Drive less, walk more. Use the bicycle a little bit more. This would mean that the cities and suburbs that we live in may actually look like neighborhoods again. Accessible stores, libraries, restaurants. And if you walk enough, you may even meet someone new and interesting. And if you walk enough, you may see that there are a lot of things that we individuals can do to keep our planet cleaner. Safer. If you walk enough, you give yourself time to think about your own life, and maybe make it better. So, here’s a random thought. Walk a mile or two and in your own small way, foster a revolution that will make our planet a better world for all of us. Today. And ensure its future as that blue marble teeming with life, a world of varied ecosystems, all in harmony with each other.