“Nature is not a place to visit. It is home.”
I’ve been reading me some Gary Snyder recently, picked up my old copy of Practice of the Wild, just randomly combing through the pages. More or less. I’m struck with the fact that so many of the compact statements that punctuate Snyder’s prose, like that particular koan quoted above, have taken on meaning since the first time I saw them, sometimes decades earlier. There are other writers whose work has similar, deeper insights between the actual lines: Edward Abbey, Rachel Carson, John Muir and Thoreau come instantly to mind. The things they said sounded true the first time I heard them, but the deeper truths of what they had to say are becoming even clearer as time goes on.
The idea of place and the notion that an individual person needs to have a relationship with the wild world around him or her in order to be completely whole; The idea that nature does not exist somewhere out there, beyond the electrical grid and football and soft-serve ice cream, but rather, that we are completely immersed in it, all the time; the idea that it is possible to communicate, not only with one another (although that is also a fine idea and is always in need of improvement), but with the plants, the animals and the land in some forgotten way: all this now seems not only desirable, but necessary.
“But if you do know what is taught by plants and weather, you are in on the gossip and can feel truly at home… To know the spirit of a place is to realize that you are a part of a part and that the whole is made of parts, each of which is a whole. You start with the part you are whole in.”