Tag Archives: people and nature

Into freedom: An essay by Elizabeth R.

Elizabeth is a 12-year-old girl who loves to write. Her favorite genre is fantasy. She loves riding around on her scooter, and this is one of the ways she gets her inspiration.

I sit at my computer desk with a blank document in front of me. I gaze out the window at the never-ending rain. I yearn for the sunlight that time forgot.

I have no ideas for stories. My mind wanders on other subjects that connect with the real world I live in every day.
 
Wait! There still is a small bit of hope. A hope that is so small, I never see it. I must search diligently for it. I must ease out of the fears, out of the worries, out of the fast and the slow lane. I must stop.
 
I picture myself in a grassy field. The sun shines warm on my face, I hear a bird singing, and the whole field is filled with a tingling sensation that I long for.
 
I somehow have a desire to run. But I am growing up, I think to myself. I have no time for such childish little games.
 
However, my legs are moving.
 
Go ahead, a voice inside my head says, go ahead and let yourself fly. Set me free.
 
My fingers now dance over to the keyboard. I type, slowly at first, but soon I am going faster and faster on the keyboard.
 
I begin to fast-walk in the field. Soon I am jogging. Then I start going at a full-out run. My heart skips, and my fingers pause…
 
Suddenly, I leap into the air and fly. Fly like I mean it! I fly, and nothing else matters to me.
 
My fingers are now dancing, flying with the story. Flying with my heart, and my soul…
 
Finally, I land ever so gracefully and softly. I walk for a little, and then find myself at my computer again.
 
I look out the window to see the sun peeking over a cloud, and the thunderheads moving away.
 
This is my chance! This is the opportunity I have been waiting for! I leap up and throw on some shoes, running outside and into the fresh air.
 
Into freedom.

Got flight?

I thought it might be nice to make this Got Flight Week on WIZ’s People Month.  Posts this week will play with the question: Can humans fly?  If you’ve had a flying dream or other liberating experience related to flying, please, feel free to post it in comments to this post or others published this week or submit your flight narrative to WIZ.

One of my hobbies is collecting words carrying the meaning of “understanding” and whose root words are bound up in the metaphorical pairing of perceiving and grasping—of aligning the focus of attention on something and the physical act of laying hold upon or seizing.  The American Heritage Dictionary gives the following definition for “understand”: To perceive or comprehend the nature and significance of; grasp. See synonyms at apprehend.”  There follow three more definitions relying upon the words “comprehend” and “grasp.”  At the heart of both “apprehend” and “comprehend” lies the Latin root prehendere, “to seize.”

Here is a partial list of other words and phrases conveying the concept of understanding that contain root words set in the act of grasping or seizing: Continue reading Got flight?

August is people month on WIZ

I’ve decided to officially declare August Homo narrans month on WIZ.  Throughout the month, I’ll post narrative prose and poetry that’s people-centric in nature.  Homo narrans (“storytelling man”) is John D. Niles’ provocative turn on our self-assigned scientific designation Homo sapien:

Only human beings possess this almost incredible cosmoplastic power, or world-making ability… Through storytelling, an otherwise unexceptional biological species has become a much more interesting thing, Homo narrans: that hominid who not only has succeeded in negotiating the world of nature, finding enough food and shelter to survive, but also has learned to inhabit mental worlds that pertain to times that are not present and places that are the stuff of dreams (p. 3).

When I write poems and essays that focus on nature, human presence permeates them — my presence out in nature as observer of and participant in some events and also as teller of the stories I relate.  Also deeply important: the audience who follows these narrative trails with me.  Though it might not appear obvious, my writing is all about people.  I wouldn’t present my narratives to audiences if I did not carry deep and growing feeling for fellow humans.  But I worry — a little — that the feeling I bear toward my own kind doesn’t shine through as much as I might hope.   So I’m tipping my hand.

One of the reasons I don’t write much (comparatively) about people is that hummingbirds or deer or swallows don’t especially care much if I write about them, but some of the people with whom I’ve had stunning encounters and whose stories weave through mine might feel put out by my narrative take on events or as if confidences have been betayed.   I embark on this project with the greatest respect and undying affection for my fellow beings.  As far as I’m concerned, the same rules of engagment apply in the human environment as when I’m out in the natural one.

Pretending, for the moment, they are not one and the same environment. 

Throughout August, then, WIZ will run narrative pieces celebrating the human presence on this planet and in general reveling in both the perks and glorious ironies of being human.  Readers wishing to join in — please feel encouraged to do so.   Stories, poems, fiction, or hybrid pieces that weave natural threads through the human narrative tapestry are especially welcome.  Please read the Submissions guidelines then send your best Homo narrans efforts to wilderness@motleyvision.org.

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Niles, John D.  Homo Narrans: The Poetics and Anthropology of Oral Literature.  Philadephia: The University of Pennsylvania Press, 1999.

What I did and thought, Earth Day 2008

Parts of this entry rise a little above-average personal in nature.  I don’t mean to make this an “alms before men” post.  I want to try to show how easily — for me, anyway — thinking can slide between my experiences with animals and the ones I have with people.   Also, I don’t remember ever having written down the “Hillbilly Dilly” episode noted below, and since the hummingbird called it to mind, after my not thinking about it for many years, I imagined the moment right for the telling.

April 22, 2008

At the cliff this morning, I find a colony of white-throated swifts fully active, hunting the wild blue, tangling into the wind gusts that stream through the canyon’s channel and splash against its rocks.

A vulture passes by, very low, slightly out from the ledge where I sit. 

A swift just cut in quite close, the vrrrrr of its wings as they sliced air sounding like a miniature jet.  A pair of hawks circle high overhead.

Will eagles come?  I barely finish writing the question when I look up to see a golden eagle, juvenile or maybe second year, brown feathers flecked with white.  As I gaze up at the eagle, a black-chinned hummingbird rises like a helicopter into my line of sight, directly between the eagle and me, probably examining the burgundy tones in my shirt, faded overall but most vivid in the cuffs.

Continue reading What I did and thought, Earth Day 2008