Liberty, Equality, Reality

What a fascinating and essential campaign promise. According to a New York Times article, Michael Eisen, an evolutionary biologist, who is among the elite of American scientists, with a tenured position at the University of California, Berkeley, has declared his intention to run in the 2018 election for a seat in the United States Senate from California. His campaign slogan: “Liberty, Equality, Reality.”

I mean, what more could we ask?

As I write these words I realize my latest running thoughts have been light. It’s because we have been in a most crazy winter. Just when we thawed from our last snowfall, starting Friday we got again probably two feet of snow (I measure how much snow is on top of our cedar picnic table out back), and, with my clumsy and off-balance issues the older I get, I barely feel safe walking in the snow, much less attempting to run on it. On Thursday I did a sprint across the road after getting off at the bus and really almost fell! I ran home from the skytrain later and hurt my back, I think due to a heavy backpack swinging while I ran.

There’s always the treadmill too, but I find it incredibly boring and not at all a “running experience”. I have an under-the-desk pedal bike at home, however, which helps in keeping my legs in shape. As I pedal and write, I have done some productive things lately:

I like this work, but it also feels boring and negligent to not be able to report from the trails. Even they, however, are once again snowy and at times inaccessible. Perhaps we should invest in some cross country skis–yet getting to the trails is also an issue.

So here it is, February, and the cherry blossoms are nowhere near. My running is still stuck on the redo of the easy 5K training, post toe-fracture, as most I can manage is a couple miles a couple times a week unless the ground is covered with ice and snow.  Thoughts and activities turn inward: keeping up with politics and being jaw-droppingingly appalled at Trump and his staff’s continued lies and gaffes, writing on my novel, planning more panels and marches, and keeping in touch with colleagues who are in different parts of the world–my ecologist friend Charlene, for instance, who is going to the Galapagos Islands in a couple weeks or Jessica, who contributed to the just-out free e-book All Things Breathe Alike, a wildlife anthology.

I miss spring and the easier/safer access to being in the woods, yet the snow is still beautiful.

So I turn to dreaming of the wild, and wishing that I did not work in the rat race as a day job but led a simpler life in the hills or the woods. I turn back to early memories in life when, even in our very conservative family upbringing, my parents taught the importance of being outdoors, preserving the wild, and the reality of scientific study.  And this education was complete with not just study but young play (learning trees by their leaves, categorizing flora and fauna in central Indiana, keeping a nature journal with photographs and live specimens, and living in this truth: camping, rafting, canoeing, hiking, swimming in rivers, and so on).

It was an experience that culminated in the young realization that scientific and empirical studies were not made up at all but were about as pure as one can get to reality on a physical level. And, at an early age, this learning, along with experience, into the wilds–into the scientific reality of the great outdoors–shaped my early mind.

I feel badly for kids today who are sequestered on screens, who learn by false leadership, molded by the untruthful ideologies–and made up “facts” to support those ideas–of a new president who does not lead and spouts lies right and left or of parents and communities who do not raise their children to appreciate the outdoors or appreciate the essential laws that science teaches us.

This strange bend from the river of reality is going to ruin us. Already has, in many cases. It’s one thing to deny integral events such as climate change; it’s another to deny our own health while allowing some maniac in charge to go ahead and approve industries that hurt our waters, soil, and the air we breathe. (Hint: it hurts us, it’s pretty obvious, how can we not get this.)

I remember when very young I used to be so fascinated by photos in the National Geographic of our national parks, and got to know authors such as John Muir. I recently added an excerpt of Muir’s Our National Parks up at Green Reads, just as a reminder. Then I got to travel to many such parks. Mind blown. His prose makes me sick with daydreaming. And envy. I want to have that life–be out there, not stuck in a city. No sirree. I want to be out there so much, in the reality of our wilds. However, we are lucky to be so close to the most beautiful trails on Earth!

The header image is of the Snake River in the Grand Tetons; it is copyright by Ccmmarron and licensed for use by Can Stock Photo.

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