I noticed something about myself recently (imagine that…), and I’m not all that pleased with it. I have always been sarcastic; smartassery has been my brand of humor for a long time. But lately I think that sarcasm may have morphed into some serious cynicism. It’s easier to be cynical than to care about something. I used to have to force myself not to cry when driving past construction sites that were once farmers fields. I actually did cry when one of the biggest trees I knew of locally was bulldozed in the name of bob evan’s restaurant. But recently they ripped out some shrubs around our parking lot at work and all I got is a low burning rage and a few sharp remarks in the name of lost habitat and greenery and beauty. “Well why don’t we just pave everything and forget the colour green.” No real emotion there, just boiling anger for the ignorance and assumption that the local birds don’t matter. Of course they do. They may be small in the immediate picture, but in the larger picture they are there for a reason. So I have hardened myself, slowly but surely, because frankly driving down the road and seeing all the destruction breaks my heart. We have lots of empty buildings, lots of places that could be revamped and given new life, why do we need stinky (literally– go into a brand new building and inhale deeply of the outgassing and tell me that’s not funk) new buildings? But, as usual, I digress. Cynicism. Right. So over time, between horrid environmental issues I can do nothing to put right personally, and horrid extended family problems, and a horrid job, I’ve just allowed the (generally) nice, polite, kind, caring face I used to wear nearly all the time to crust over with this mask of irritation, sharp edged sarcasm, cynicism, and occasionally outright rudeness. I feel impotent, I think, in regard to the destruction of my local beauty and wildlife, and I am afraid at this point that if I were to remove that crusty mask I’d either fall apart crying for a year (or just every time I have to look around) or rage full out on the first available scapegoat. Neither of these is acceptable. I know, you’re reading this thinking, ‘all this over a few shrubs? Really?’ And if it was really just a few shrubs, I could let it go. But it’s not. It’s everywhere. It’s the woods that are gone from behind a local school, the farms that once contributed to the local farmer’s market and beauty, the trees that beautify our streets, the shrubs that soften the concrete where we have to be, the redwoods hundreds of years old cut down for tissues and paper towels and napkins, the amazon being razed in the name of livestock. And that’s just for starters. There are the inhabitants of those places to consider too. What are we doing to ourselves? In the short term we think it doesn’t matter, and to some it may not. But even if you’re not a treehugger, an environmentalist, a gardener, a general fan of natural places, even if you can’t see it or tell immediately these things affect our psyches. They affect the way we feel. They soften us around the edges and give us something to wonder at. We don’t stop and take time in silence much anymore, but we should. Stop, just once, when you are out sometime and watch the swaying of a tree in the breeze- really allow yourself to see it. The leaves tremble and shiver, the branches sway and dance, the trunk gives itself to the air and allows it’s whole body to be gentled by the wind. Look up as far as you can see into the sky and find the birds that ride those high currents up there. In the evenings the swallows swoop and dive in a kind of grace mankind can only dream of. Even when I dream I can fly, it’s not like that. Even in dreams I am outclassed by nature. Am I the only one who sees all this? Surely not. Surely the in the whole human race, there are others who see and feel this way. So maybe,…..maybe if I just chip a little of the mask off at a time, let it out a bit at a time, it won’t be so bad. Part of my problem is there’s a lot of this around, and so, a lot for me to be saddened by. I hate to cry. I do it as infrequently as possible. And sometimes…….I feel like someone has to mourn for it. I can’t stop it, or so it seems. I wouldn’t know where to start. So is all that’s left is to take care of these places while we have them, and mourn when they’re gone? That just seems wrong. Enjoy your green places and the wild places people. We may not have them for long.