Saturday, November 04, 2006

Big Questions

Virginia Farley asks conservation leaders to think about why we work in the field...

what inspires our vision...

why we care... and why we should articulate the vision.

Scary thoughts which take each person back through time to a trigger point, an ah-hah moment, an epiphany that, with reflection, might have been the inspiration for the choice to work in the field of conservation...

I found this hard to handle... I'm a fixer, a producer, a "get it done" - usually on deadline - person. Easily distracted by the daily details, the routine, the mechanical steps of organizing others, assisting others who have a vision… I have been uncertain of my own voice… and often come back to searching for the best way I can help: what am I best at? Is my contribution a skill or an art?

In any case, Virginia's question overturned a very emotional connection to the Ocean… as an organizing theme almost, the single most inspiring place or piece of the Earth, and connections that go back into childhood.

What inspires me?

The ocean. the coastline ... whether rocky or salt marsh, beach or estuary…

It was in Maine that I first understood that the salt marsh is the nursery of the ocean, the ocean is the nursery of all life, even if life began with dust from the void.

The tides -- the push and pulse of the ocean on the land -- are a connection to the essence of life…

Sunshine on water, the play of light, providing the energy for life in the Ocean.

Wherever I am in the world, along a shoreline I am closest to life, close to being part of the ocean. It is an edge, a boundary.

It is difficult for me to ignore the ocean when I am close to it: how can you turn your eye away?

Even at night it pulls me to it: the night sky meeting the ocean… moon on water, clouds shifting… waves breaking on a beach at night.

Memories flood in: Sailing off Cancun at night in a small boat, feeling the wind in the sails for the very first time… a sensation so fresh and intense that I cannot believe 30 years have past since I took the tiller of that little boat.

Lighthouses up and down the East Coast, along the coast of Oregon.

Bicycling in the rain along the coast of Nova Scotia, hair wet with salt.

Mornings on Mount Desert Island when the fog drenches the spruce trees.

The pink and blue skies of sunset off the East coast of Florida - the sun setting at your back, tinting the Atlantic salmon and the beach soft at dusk. Manatees in the channel at Fort Pierce.

Orange sunsets at Flamingo Bay, at Everglades National Park.

Flat gentle beaches where children are happy to play and paddle: Sunset Bay, Cape Arago, Oregon... Demerest Lloyd State Park in Massachusetts

Whether I am in Maine, Rhode Island, Florida, California or Oregon, when I am close to the ocean, I am home.

Virginia, what are we supposed to do with this?

How do you take something that makes you cry and turn it into something useful?

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