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briansholis : nature   3

Mark O'Connell, "Splendid isolation," The Guardian
"My relationship with time had always been characterised by a certain baleful anxiety, but as I approached the start of the decade in which I would have no choice but to think of myself as middle-aged, this anxiety intensified. I was always in the middle of some calculation or quantification with respect to time, and such thoughts were always predicated on an understanding of it as a precious and limited resource. What time was it right now? How much time was left for me to do the thing I was doing, and when would I have to stop doing it to do the next thing?

This resource being as limited as it was, should I not be doing something better with it, something more urgent or interesting or authentic? At some point in my late 30s, I recognised the paradoxical source of this anxiety: that every single thing in life took much longer than I expected it to, except for life itself, which went much faster, and would be over before I knew where I was.

Much of this had to do with being a parent. Having two young children had radically altered my relationship with the days and hours of my life. Almost every moment was accounted for in a way that it had never been before. But it was also the sheer velocity of change, the state of growth and flux in which my children existed, and the constant small adjustments that were necessary to accommodate these changes."

"And with this new phase of parenthood, I began to think how strange it was, given how precious those early years now seemed to me, that I spent so little time thinking about my own childhood, the lost civilisation on which my adult self now stood."

"A word he used a lot in talking about his work, and in describing the experience and value of the nature solo, was 're-enchantment.'"

"When you’re actually in it, the reality of the solo is, at least at first, one of total boredom. I cannot stress enough how little there is to do when you have confined yourself to the inside of a small circle of stones and sticks in a forest. But it is an instructive kind of boredom, insofar as boredom is the raw and unmediated experience of time."

"Then it occurred to me that there was something about the not knowing that was somehow right. Not having a human name to give the tree, a category in which to put it, made the tree more real and present to me than it otherwise would have, or so I allowed myself to believe."

"In these moments, I find myself thinking of the place itself as somehow conscious of my presence. To be alone in a forest, and to be thinking of the forest as somehow aware of you: I will acknowledge that this sounds like the very substance of nightmare, but, in fact, it is a strangely beautiful and quietly moving experience, and I think it must be what people mean when they talk about intuiting the presence of God."

"And I thought with a pang of how I was always hurrying him – to get dressed, to get out the door for school, to finish his dinner, to get ready for bed – and of how heedlessly I was inflicting upon him my own anxious awareness of time as an oppressive force."
MarkOConnell  TheGuardian  isolation  time  nature  NatureWriting  solitude  parenting  2020  2020-01  2020Faves 
7 weeks ago by briansholis
Gene Tracy, "What have we lost now we can no longer read the sky?" Aeon
"Discoveries in astronomy and physics of the past century expanded the known universe by orders of magnitude in size and age, and turned cosmology into a true observational science. Those breakthroughs urged upon us an extraordinary stretch of the imagination, even as related technological advances detached nearly everyone from that larger world by making the stars safe to ignore."
GeneTrace  science  astronomy  stars  navigation  technology  nature  nighttime  2015  2015-12 
january 2019 by briansholis
Brian Phillips, "A Tiger Hunt in India," The Ringer
"It was useless to think about “nature.” Nature was inconceivable, any vision of it self-negating; how could you have thoughts about the system that enclosed all possible thought? A tiger had no concept of nature. A tiger saw what was. That was why tiger tracks lined the dirt roads all over the forest. The roads made it easier to get from one place to another, and what difference did it make to a tiger who put them there? It was a mistake to think you could imagine nature as something distinct from the part of nature that was human activity, for the same reason it would be bizarre to invent a separate category for all of existence minus squid or silkworms. Yet I realized that in coming here to look at tigers, what I had wanted was to see the wilderness, to be close to the thing itself, and instead I had a strange sense that I was still at home streaming nature videos on YouTube."
BrianPhillips  TheRinger  PersonalEssay  nature  tigers  India  2018  2018-09 
january 2019 by briansholis

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