What can we do? Step to the side. Give her the right-of-way. Kneel.

Has anyone been face-to-face with evolution? The other day I was eye-to-eye with a Galápagos tortoise that had spent three months walking from the top of the volcano down to the sea to lay her eggs at night on the island of Isabela. In the slow, deliberate nature of her world, she upholds twelve million years of perfection. Beauty is the origin of wonder. What enables her to live eighteen months without food or water? Does a fast predicated by drought or famine become spiritual? What can we do for the tortoise? Step to the side. Give her the right-of-way. Kneel.

~ Terry Tempest Williams, Erosion: Essays of Undoing (Sarah Crichton Books, October 8, 2019)


Notes:

  • Inspiration? I’m searching for my next book. I can’t find it. For some reason I’m drawn to this book. I engage. I’m tempted to drop it, but something keeps pulling me forward. 1/3 of the way in. I wouldn’t recommend it to my friends (yet). But there is something in these essays that won’t let me go. A Teacher teaching, interspersed with meditations, that makes it more important than anything that I’ve read in years. Onward.  Let’s see what’s ahead.
  • Photo: Giant tortoise on Pinzon Island, Galapagos. Rory Stansbury, Island Conservation/Flickr

Can’t read. Can’t watch. Can’t bear it.

8:30 p.m. Wednesday evening. I’m in Texas on assignment, Dallas thankfully. The planned evening workout at the gym has been canceled without much fuss.  I’ll need to carry the fuel of three consecutive days of nutritious Chick-fil-A, home fries and Kit Kat bars into a fourth day. You’d say, not possible to eat Chick-fil-A, home fries and Kit Kat bars three days in a row, and I would tell you not to bet against me.

I’m fully reclined on the bed leaning against the headboard.

A long day.

The MacBook warms my lap.  The TV remote control rests on my right.

I start with the day’s RSS feeds, rifling through the posts.  And stop.

The Headline shouted: Fishermen jailed, fined millions for massive shark massacre off Galapagos IslandsThe Ecuadorean navy made a shocking discovery earlier this month when, at the request of Galapagos National Park officials, it investigated a Chinese-flagged vessel cruising through the marine reserve off the Galapagos Islands. They found more than 6,600 illegally caught sharks lying in piles onboard the vessel known as the Fu Yuan Yu Leng 999.”

The Galapagos Islands. A protected area.  6,600 illegally caught sharks. Wow.

I set the laptop down and grab the remote.

CNN: Houston. Hurricane Harvey. Levees topped out. Mothers’ clutching babies. The aged being hauled out of Nursing homes. Flood waters rising.

Click.

FOX: North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un and missles over Japan.

Click.

MSNBC: Trump and Russia.

Click.

BRAVO: The World Wildlife Fund commercial. 60 seconds, and I can’t avert my eyes.

I turn the TV off.

I twist in my ear buds, grab my iPhone and turn to Apple’s Coffeehouse playlist.  The first tune on the list is Glen Campbell’s (RIP 8/7/17) Gentle on My Mind:

I still might run in silence
Tears of joy might stain my face
And the summer sun might burn me till I’m blind
But not to where I cannot see
You walkin’ on the back roads
By the rivers flowin’ gentle on my mind

Lights out…

~ DK


 

Floating on their backs and saying, Urr.

sea-lion-close-up

I was catching on to sea lions. Walk into the water. Instantly sea lions surround you, even if none has been in sight. To say that they come to play with you is not especially anthropomorphic. Animals play. The bull sea lions are off patrolling their territorial shores; these are the cows and young, which range freely. A five-foot sea lion peers intently into your face, then urges her muzzle gently against your underwater mask and searches your eyes without blinking. Next she rolls upside down and slides along the length of your floating body, rolls again, and casts a long glance back at your eyes. You are, I believe, supposed to follow, and think up something clever in return. You can play games with sea lions in the water using shells or bits of leaf, if you are willing. You can spin on your vertical axis and a sea lion will swim circles around you, keeping her face always six inches from yours, as though she were tethered. You can make a game of touching their back flippers, say, and the sea lions will understand at once; somersaulting conveniently before your clumsy hands, they will give you an excellent field of back flippers. And when you leave the water, they follow. They don’t want you to go. They porpoise to the shore, popping their heads up when they lose you and casting about, then speeding to your side and emitting a choked series of vocal notes. If you won’t relent, they disappear, barking; but if you sit on the beach with so much as a foot in the water, two or three will station with you, floating on their backs and saying, Urr.

~ Annie Dillard, “Life on the Rocks: The Galapagos.” Teaching a Stone to Talk.


Notes:

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