“Do not let trifles disturb your tranquility of mind…Life is too precious to be sacrificed for the nonessential and transient…Ignore the inconsequential.” Grenville Kleiser (1868-1935)
When I began writing this blog about a year ago I was looking to share some of the life lessons that I had learned while working as a gardener these past 30 years – and I think it goes without saying that to be a good gardener you have to have some sense of nurture. And since taking care of a garden is much the same as taking care of a planet (albeit on a larger scale), I find myself writing more and more about environmental issues. All of these ‘issues’ are of our doing and whether we like to admit it or not, we are, without a doubt, the biggest problem on this planet and yet we don’t really seem to be serving any meaningful purpose, at least in a biological sense. We are not a part of any species food chain, we don’t pollinate or disperse seeds, in fact the only thing we do seem to be good at is running this planet into the ground per se. And yet the world we know changes with perspective, and how we view it will ultimately determine our stewardship or destruction of it. The truth of the matter can be very hard to find and it is only in those places where we clearly don’t belong, where we are the intruders, that one gets a real sense of perspective – the opportunity for a blunt self-appraisal of our worth as a species. For me, those places are only found when I go scuba diving or spelunking, meandering through the caves and cracks that lead into the heart of the earth. While I realize that these adventures aren’t for everyone, if you ever find yourself hundreds of feet beneath the surface of the earth, try sitting down and turning off your headlamp for just a few minutes. Here in total darkness, with no interruptions but the beating of your own heart, the obvious becomes apparent… we are insignificant. I get this same sense when I’m diving, particularly when I look back up to the surface expecting to see the sky, only to realize that I’m not in a place I could call ‘my’ world and its needs don’t revolve around me. The epiphany being that below the surface of the waters I am inconsequential. If tomorrow this planet was devoid of human beings, the only things that would perish would be our cities and factories, and the roads that connect them – the infrastructure or veneer that we like to call civilization. The rest of the planet would go on as normal – the tides would surge, the insects pollinate, the flowers bloom and go to seed, the animals hunt, the rains fall, the sun set – we just wouldn’t be here to see it all and take the credit.