¬†This morning my daily exercise routine was punctuated by a surge of joy. ¬†
¬† ¬† ¬†Looking out the window, I noticed a handful of dried leaves suddenly fly off a little red maple, swirl rapidly around each other, then quickly disperse.
¬† ¬† ¬†Moments like this one gladden and feed my heart. ¬†But these nature delights, for me, have their shadow side as well.
¬† ¬† ¬†Never far removed from my great pleasure in nature is grief. ¬†How quickly my joyous heart becomes my broken heart. ¬†I grieve that the natural beauty I see from every window of my home is far less healthy than it once was; ¬†I grieve for the many species silently disappearing all around me; ¬†I grieve that we are not acting nearly fast enough to prevent climate change from making my little¬†granddaughters’ future very difficult.
¬† ¬† ¬†For me it can be a challenge to let myself feel all of this, both the great joy and the great grief. ¬†But as the poet Stanley Kunitz says, “the heart breaks and breaks, and lives by breaking.” ¬†To be heart-broken is to be truly alive.
¬† ¬† ¬† When I think of our efforts to protect the planet, the decades-old saying, “little victories, big defeats” crosses my mind.¬†¬†We do win victories; ¬†the Clean Air Act and the Clean Water Act have truly improved the quality of our air and water; ¬†some species, through great effort, have been saved from extinction; and certain pristine lands have been set aside for protection. ¬†
¬† ¬† ¬†But meanwhile, we are rapidly losing so much more than we are gaining. ¬†Scientists tell us we are in the Sixth Great Extinction in the earth’s four billion year history. ¬†Species are disappearing at a rate that has been matched only five times before. ¬†Ever. ¬†What’s different this time is that it’ a living creature–namely humans–that are the main cause. ¬†And that’s why scientists have named this period the Anthropocene. ¬†Man has become the main driver of changes in the biosphere.
¬† ¬† ¬†And now we are entering a new era, the era of ¬†President Trump.¬†¬†As frightening and discouraging as it is to hear him vow to scrap the Paris climate accord, to open up¬†all¬†of our public lands to oil and gas drilling, and to undo the federal Clean Power Plan, I am heartened by the determination I see on the part of environmental organizations to work ¬†harder than they ever have to prevent Trump from sacrificing our treasured planet for the short-term greed of the fossil fuel industry.¬†
¬† ¬† ¬†I will continue to let my heart break open to the beauty that surrounds me. ¬†And I will remember the words of¬†Jane Goodall, “there is still a lot left that is¬†worth fighting for.” ¬† We cannot know how successful we will be in saving our planet, but we can never give up on Mother Earth.–April Moore¬†