|Denver Botanic Gardens|
After my keynote address I had more people than I expected come up to me or stop me in the halls -- again, humbling. You want to talk to me? You enjoyed what I said? Really? One person said they'd never thought of gardening in the terms I put it -- ethics, climate change, extinction, empowerment, activism, social responsibility -- and now they were going to garden differently. Another said his wife had been working on him about the ideas I presented, and he thanked me, saying he was going to give in to her. A woman told me I kicked the audience's ass, and they needed kicking, and was thrilled to be kicked even as it stung a bit.
Finally, another woman came up to my table to purchase a book; I asked her what she thought of my talk and she said nothing. I looked up and her eyes were red, then she muttered something like "you really spoke to me." I can't remember what she said exactly, but after seeing her tears I felt like nothing else needed to be said. Ever. I've never had an experience quite like that. I taught college English for 15 years and many times students would break down in my office as we worked on an essay, me trying to push them to get at the deeper truth, the deeper story of their lives that would empower them in the class, and hopefully, beyond the class.
As a writer I don't often get to see how, or even if, my words make an impact. The one thing speaking does is help me more fully experience with others what it is I mean, what we mean, gardening during the anthropocene when the entire planet is a now a garden we have forcefully constructed and must now manage (and it's beyond us to manage it responsibly, I think, let alone economically feasible). I am exhausted and thankful for the long weekend -- just as I feel after taking a prairie hike or writing an essay.