Now, I call myself an Environmentalist

I’m sending this email to a few of you with whom I’ve begun to fully express myself, a few who are very close friends, and a few with whom I’ve communicated with once in the past ten years. Yet you all know me, some in different ways than others. I hope that by sending this email out to everyone, each with a different view of me, that I might not only get some feedback from some of you, but that it will act as somewhat of a catharsis and that by opening my self so honestly to all of you I will become one step closer in my ability with being honest with my self.

I am on the edge of either stumbling into a greater truth, or delusion… but it is so new… so fraught with risk and the unknown that there are simply no compass points to navigate with. If you know me, you know that I love to write letters… particularly when I am in deep contemplation. My friends know me as someone who is typically unafraid to venture into new philosophical areas. I’ve asked one thing of God(dess) my entire life… to learn and grow. Over the past year I’ve learned more and have made great strides. My prayer has changed… it changed to “make me a vessel for change”.

The change I wanted to make was unknown and a quick look will turn up too many injustices to list to where I can easily become overwhelmed with the sheer magnitude of it all and my inability to change anything. I cannot change everything and so I must choose my fight. But what fight? Various exercises that I like to perform (stream of consciousness writing and such) have shown me that my heart does not lie in a psychology laboratory. My intellect loves to grapple with research designs… but my heart is out in the field and the forest.

I began college solely for the purpose to learn. I had no real desire for any particular major or end result when I began. I tried to sign up for every class at first. When I easily made A’s in psychology and was quickly able to debate any problem and solve it… I chose psychology as my major.  I am rethinking that now.

Psychology has given me an appreciation for how science works and how it can be used for or against us. Psychology has also shown me just how “in control” we are of ourselves, how much control we actually “do not have”, and why we act toward each other in the manner that we do. However, it has not helped me to love my fellow (wo)man any more. Long walks into forest at midnight, meditations, and prayers have all been my guide. My heroes were once Chesty Puller, and Carlos Hathcock. Now they are Gandhi, Thoreau, Hill, King.

I stay in college now because my father helps me with the tuition. And because of this I feel somewhat indebted to him to complete my degree. Yet my heart is not in a college in the middle of an urban world studying the workings of the mind. My heart is in the great forest of the Rockies, the Cascades, the Appalachians, the Ozarks, and the Alaskan Interior. I’ve bought books, read maps, visited websites, emailed for information, done everything but moved to the very areas I read about.

As a bartender and as someone who is quick to sit down next to a complete stranger and ask “what is wrong with you? How can I help?” I generally find out that people are not living their dreams. Covey ask the question “what would you do if you knew you could not fail?” I’ve asked people this question and for a moment their eyes shine and they reccount a dream. I encourage them to go for it… to live their dream… to “follow their bliss” or “to live deliberately”. Yet for the past three years I’ve had to ask this question of myself with no answer.

Until now.

I’ve scoured five bookstores for a book (the meadow by James Galvin) for class, all to no avail. I did notice a book at the last one entitled “the legacy of luna”. A courageous and brave woman named Julia Hill spent two years living in a redwood to protest logging… never touching the ground. This woman truly followed her heart. She did not know she would end up spending two years in a tree… but she lived her convictions and never wavered in them. I thought as a marine who has been in Desert Storm with missles tossed at me like snowballs that I would know what courage was. I see now that I did not. I am beginning to see what it truly is now. I now ask myself if I truly have the courage to follow my own bliss.

That is why I write to you all now. I do not look for social approval. I place no value upon it. Kant made a good argument for this stance. In fact social approval is one big problem faced… people are often afraid to move outside those boundaries. So do not interpret this as an email asking you to try to talk me out of anything. I’ve not yet decided what I am going to do… but I know what I do not want to do.

For as long as I can remember I’ve gained my strength and solace within the folds of forest. Whenever I have a chance I am out in Nature… smelling, breathing, feeling. No matter what my schedule… how many task or demands… hours spent doing nothing in a meadow is never a waste. Yet my life has become what may be called a “life of quiet desperation” in that I am worrying more and more about paying bills and punching a clock… when I could really care less about any of them.

My anger at times seethes into a great ball. I want to lash out at something and yet what do I do? How can I make a difference living in Houston, working at a bar five miles a day, going to and fro in my car, silently paying my bills, buying recycled paper, seperating my bottles, plastics, etc.. in my trash for the recycling center.

What would I do if I knew I could not fail?

I would be with the GreenPeace Polar Bears camping out in Antarctica to protest the construction of an oil platform by BP which expects only 6 months of oil from the site. I would be in the Alaskan Interior to protest a new pipeline through the North American equivalent to the Serengeti. I would be in Washington D.C. next month to protest the WTO (good job Seattle!). I would find something to do in Pasadena, Texas with the hazardous air quality in the area. I would protest G.P. in Crossett, Arkansas and what has become a shameful clearcutting practice and as well as what I believe to be hazardous pollutant dumpings in the region (those of you who know what stink creek is need not feign surprise). I would be in N. California to protest the logging of old growth redwood (or any redwood for that matter). I would be striving to promote the same tax writeoffs for solar and wind power as the fossil fuel companies get for their polluting businesses. I am happy to see the oil hike! I hope it triples in price. Maybe then we’d get some actual attention paid to alternate power. I would be in British Columbia protesting the Canadian governments seizure of tribal sacred lands for a highway! I would be supporting in any way I could the re-introduction of wolves into the lower 48 states. The creation of more National Monuments to prohibit development in wilderness areas.

I am so sick and tired and filled with complete disgust over the complete selfishness of American Society that I cannot begin to control it. The first complaint to come from anyone is about their jobs. Wasn’t anybody else stopped in the parking lot staring at their car radio in horror last summer about the news of the rivers in the Eastern U.S. that have given up dying fish from a virus due to pollution! What goes first in an ecosystem? The Water! We’ve screwed it up! Has anyone else watched the IMAX feature “blue planet” and wept at the satellite pictures of erosion due to clearcutting and farming?

I am losing this restraint… these shackles that are keeping me a quiet member of society, content to shop at Whole Foods, content to vote for Democrats (which are not much better than Republicans), content to fill my tires properly and to drive slower, content to recycle paper products, content to quit eating all meat products, content to give out more money to environmental groups annually than I spend on dates, content to send email after email to the presidents of companies and governments detailing my disapproval of some action.

I believe in something bigger than our frail egos can fathom. I’ve felt it, I’ve experienced it, and it has been an elusive companion. I’ve been an elusive disciple. I’ve asked sincerely to become a tool for change, to live my life for some greater purpose than to simply come home to cable t.v. and join a bookclub.

I believe in synchronicity, in unseen forces at work. Call it God, Universal Spirit, or whatever… but everything has been preparing me for this. Just as I start to relax a bit in my fervor… I sign up for some unknown class in college called literature of place because it is the only time I can take an english class. The class has acted as a catalyst and thanks to reading Abbey, Williams, Graves and Bass… I’ve started reading others in the field… often neglecting my assigned readings for the new books.

If karma and reincarnation is what “it” is… then by not doing this I am perpetuating a lie and will never advance. If judgement in Heaven is what “it” is… then I will be worth damning if given the tools, the ability, and the passion to stop environmental damage. If the Earth is a manifestation of Pagan creator deities… then Summerland will not become my home as I’ve desecrated what was holy.

I have two or three semesters left at UH to obtain a psychology degree. I no longer care about obtaining a psychology degree. My apartment lease is up. I may or may not re-up for six months. But I am moving. Where to I do not know. I begin my search now. I have no car notes to pay. I have no college bills to pay. I will erase my last remaining debt in four months. I have many skills. I want to find the front line and join. I’ve read several books on writing personal and organization mission statements. I’ve tried it to no real avail. The key to a mission statement is that it MUST transcend all of your roles… your family, your professional, your hobbies, your social groups, everything. If your’s doesn’t… there is a mismatch somewhere.

Thank you all for reading this email. If you think me mad… you are probably correct, but then I could argue that point psychologically!!!

(grin)

Eddie Black

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