Monday, August 22, 2016

Grief is Love, Hope is Embracing Our Pain

So, I'm working on this book -- A 21st Century Garden Ethic: Cultivating Defiant Compassion for an Uncertain Future. I'm probably going to end up with 300 pages of research (well over what I'll end up writing)... psychology, ecology, science, philosophy. I'm going to say things that will upset lots of folks, that are going to cut to the bone of our culture. Heavy stuff that even weighs down on me and that I've avoided for years. But over those years of reading I've slowly developed a resilience that I feel is directive and empowering and liberating. I don't have to live beneath or within the systems that exploit myself and other species; or, at least I can acknowledge those systems and learn how and why to live without them. Our culture doesn't just marginalize our own species by class, race, or gender -- it does a superb job of marginalizing places, rivers, prairie dogs, butterflies, and sharks. Violence is all around us working toward the same end -- making me feel comfortable or apathetic, assuming a life without natural riches is indeed rich enough, all for the benefit of a few.

While I was organizing my research I also came across, again, these words by Chris Jordan -- which stop me in my tracks every time:

“I discovered that grief is not the same as sadness and despair. Grief is the same as love. Grief is a felt experience of love for something that we’re losing, or that we’ve lost.... the role of the artist is not to relieve us of feelings of hopelessness, despair, rage, love, but to help us feel those things.”  

You may know Chris from his work photographing albatross on Midway. If you don't, please watch this, very powerful trailer.


Diana Studer said...

the birds whose epitaph is the away where our discarded plastic goes. Out of sight ...

Meg French said...

Powerful Benjamin and beautifully expressed. .
I also had not seen that trailer before. Is A trailer of an upcoming longer movie? Heart wrenching.

Benjamin Vogt said...

Diana -- Yes, absolutely.
Meg -- Just wait another year for the book! :) I thought the movie would already be out, but can't find it.

Lisa Rainsong said...

I look forward to this book very much. I want to read about that resilience we so badly need and how we can continue on with the grief instead of being incapacitated by despair.
Thank you for the quote from Chris Jordan. I'm a professional musician who is also a naturalist, and my partner is a visual artist. What Chris said about the role of the artist feels absolutely true to me.