nov 24, 2013 steelhead fishing 009

River trips are more than just an engagement with the water.  Our boats are vessels  into a world full of exciting mystery where something new can be learned at every  bend.  Adventure is more than a “doing, ” it is a way of  “being.”  And we can only “be” by the “becoming” that additional knowledge helps create as we move along the course of the river.

Fireside Grande Ronde

Here at Wapitiland, we like to think of ourselves more as navigators and facilitator for people to help expand more understanding about our natural world. An ecological education is fundamental not only for the benefit of human growth, but also to the ability of humans to live more harmoniously with everything else in the world. Why is it so important to know more about the basics?  Perhaps a few quotes and wisdom from some highly respected pillars of the academic  community are in order here:

“The last word in ignorance is the man who says of an animal or plant, “What good is it?” If the land mechanism as a
whole is good, then every part is good, whether we understand it or not. If the biota, in the course of aeons, has built something we like but do not understand, then who but a fool would discard seemingly useless parts? To keep every cog and wheel is the first precaution of intelligent tinkering.”  – Aldo Leopold

Oct 2012 steelhead fishing 001

“The question is, does the educated citizen know he is only a cog in an ecological mechanism? That if he will work with that mechanism his mental wealth and his material wealth can expand indefinitely? But that if he refuses to work with it, it will ultimately grind him to dust? If education does not teach us these things, then what is education for?” – Aldo Leopold

Barbs Oregon Coast Sept 2013 385

The other reason any kind of education is important, is because, as Mahatma Gandhi put it: “A man is but a product of his thought, what he thinks, he becomes.”  What we become determines where we go and what we stand for. And if we don’t stand for something, we will fall for anything, a famous song line warns.

Closed eyes are as good as no eyes, and only leads to a blindness in the mind. So it pays to keep eyes open, so the brain can see better.  Yet, as Carl Sagan once said: “it pays to keep an open mind, but not so open your brains fall out.”  This is why critical thinking is so important when it comes to evaluating any new material that comes before you.

So what is the cost of a good education? Well, it is far less than the cost of ignorance.  And to us in the Wapiti Clan, the real value of education is that the more you understand of nature, the more likely it is that you will help protect it. It is after all, the foundation of our home, no matter where it is.  More importantly, as Einstein warns: “The world will not be destroyed by those who do evil, but by those who watch them without doing anything”.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

One of the fundamental survival mechanisms of any biological organism is adaptation; how something adapts to a situation to increase the likelihood it will live on. So when it comes to how we deal with ecological processes of the natural environment, we might do better to question how we can become good adapters.  Or perhaps, more  appropriately, as the educator David Orr once said:  “It makes far better sense to reshape ourselves to fit a finite planet than to attempt to reshape the planet to fit our infinite wants.”

What to do?  Finding truth and understanding is no easy task. This is made all the more difficult in the  massive information-swamp created by the internet and social media.  As the country with the highest rate of natural resource consumption on the planet,  comes the highest order of making responsible choices.  Like trying to find gold, you have to move a ton of dirt  just to find an ounce. Such is it to sift through the vast sea of information to find that tiny ship of facts.  Not easy, but necessary if you plan on  making a good decision.

knowledge movement

Even with all the facts it isn’t always easy to reach a good understanding or know which direction to lean. However, an old native tale of truth and wisdom story might most aptly apply here:

“An old Cherokee is telling his granddaughter about a fight that is going on inside himself. He said it is between two wolves. One is evil: anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority and ego.  The other is good: joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion and faith. The granddaughter thought about it for a minute and then asked her grandfather, “Which wolf wins?”

The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one I feed.”

 

Wolf tracks John Day Mtn 2008 005

Reading about how to track a wolf , is not tracking  the wolf. You have to first go into the wilds for that.   Simply reading about nature, is just not the same as knowing it.  You have to go to know, and there is no better place to go than to the river. That is where the essence of the wild resides.  It is, as stated by the signature phrase of Sherlock Holmes fame: ” Elementary, my dear, Watson, elementary.”

“Only those who partake of the harmony within their souls know the harmony that runs through nature.”

-Paramahansa Yogananda

At least, if we are but a mere ecological cog, then why not an enlightened one should we not aspire to be. Which wolf inside, will you choose to feed?

Remember, holistic thinking sees the forest, while individual thinking sees the tree. But, you can’t have one without the other, because all ecology is a system that requires interaction between the two.  But, you have to start somewhere. Where?  One link, that’s all: www.doryfun.com  for confronting new experiences and ideas pushed  to a greater depth of appreciation.

Nature Einstein

Advertisements