Discover more from Amy Writes Words
More on that thru-hike, "humanitarian pauses", and some Ursula K. Le Guin quotes
minus several thousand words I decided NOT to ask you to read
Half my family has covid now, but they are so far not as sick as I was (blessedly).
Meanwhile, I now have a sinus infection. Also the dishwasher is broken, so it feels like mostly what I do now is wash dishes.
Meanwhile, also, and despite everything, the sun still sets every evening and every evening I can, I stand on the roof and watch.1
I’m on a big Ursula K. Le Guin reading/re-reading kick. I just finished reading is one of Le Guin’s earlier novels, The Lathe of Heaven:
“Orr sat for a while, shoulders slumped. He wanted to yell at Haber, “Liar! Why do you lie to me?” But the impulse was not a deep one. It led nowhere. For all he knew, Haber was incapable of sincerity because he was lying to himself.
“That Haber could have thus got out of communication with himself was rather hard for Orr to conceive; his own mind was so resistant to such divisions that he was slow to recognize them in others. But he had learned that they existed. He had grown up in a country run by politicians who sent the pilots to man the bombers to kill the babies to make the world safe for children to grow up in.”
Benjamin Netanyahu tells us that the Israeli army is fighting “in the name of the sanctity of life.”
I continue to follow The Guardian for updates on that situation, and to call my congresspeople every couple of days to demand a ceasefire, and to stay up date via If Not Now on what else I can be doing. With the family sick, I can’t make it out to more protests at the moment, but I appreciate everyone who is able to.
In fact, Elizabeth Warren did finally on Tuesday make a slight move in the direction of perhaps suggesting that maybe it is not a great idea that quite so many civilians be killed every day for the foreseeable future. Anthony Blinken has started saying the words “humanitarian pause” over and over again, although no one has explained to me how a “pause” is different from a “cease”, since it’s my understanding that both are generally considered temporary. My point though is that I do think that when we speak up in such numbers, it moves what our politicians can say and do.
Enough about that, let’s talk about this thru-hike I want to do.
I have also been re-reading poet Mary Ruefle’s Madness, Rack, and Honey:
I used to think I wrote because there was something I wanted to say. Then I thought, “I will continue to write because I have not yet said what I wanted to say”; but I know now I continue to write becuase I have not yet heard what I have been listening to.
It’s this, this feeling that there is a listening I have been trying for, and that I haven’t heard it yet, that is behind my enormous desire to go walking in the forest. In July, in Vermont, I spent a lot of time listening to the forest, but it was not enough.
I need to learn more what the forest has to say, I thought, and then thirteen inches of rain came down and the forest said “look, I have made you a waterfall where the driveway used to be. That is what I have to say to you today.”
The waterfall roared and roared and then it disappeared leaving great deep fissures in the dirt. We were stuck up the mountain for several days, and then the man with the bulldozer I met down on the road below came up and moved the earth to fill in the driveway so we could drive back down and leave.
You would think that this lesson would have killed my desire to learn more from the forest, but it didn’t. I know I am not done listening. There is so much more I need to hear.
When I left my last job, I thought “I do not want to be a leader anymore.”
I was tired of Power and I was tired of Consequences. Small power, small consequences, comparatively, but still too much, more than I could stomach anymore.
I want to learn other ways of being.
Le Guin writes of Ged, the Wizard of Earthsea, after a long life of Leadership, with Large Power, Large Consequences: "in later years he strove long to learn what can be learned, in silence, from the eyes of animals, the flight of birds, the great slow gestures of trees.”
I too want to be in my later years and to learn what I can learn from the great slow gestures of trees.
Here is the part where I DON’T make you read about Marc Andreessen’s “Techno-Optimist Manifesto” although you can click through to this scathing NYTimes guest essay by Elizabeth Spiers if you want to.
Take a moment to feel relieved that I excised several thousand words on topics like how problematic it is to have an entire section in your manifesto unironically titled “Becoming Technological Supermen”. You’re welcome.
Back to Ursula K. Le Guin:
“Do nothing because it is righteous or praiseworthy or noble to do so; do nothing because it seems good to do so; do only that which you must do and which you cannot do in any other way.” 2
If you ask me why I find myself speaking up against what is being done to Palestinians, I might say it’s this -- I am doing only that which I must do, when what I want to be doing is watching the forest breathe.
As much as I would like to, it seems I cannot retire from the production of consequences, whether I fashion myself a leader or not, whether I choose to act or seek to avoid it. Even to walk in the forest leaves a trace, however much we’re trained how not to.
Still, I hope to learn to make only the consequences that I must, so that more and more of my time is devoted to listening, so that more and more I can discover what it is I’m trying to hear.
Thanks for reading. As always, I love replies.
Speaking of which, I just started reading Sunsets are the only Given and I am enjoying it. A thru-hiking friend turned me onto the author, and so I’m now also enjoying Thru Hiking Will Break Your Heart. I am perfectly aware that there are correct ways to recommend another publication on this platform that give me proper credit for having done so, but at this point I am absolutely mulishly refusing.
From The Farthest Shore