I just today received the second proof copy of my new book, Beyond the Search. Again, there are a few issues that need to be corrected before publication. But, in doing a little proofreading of the book I find myself inspired by my own words, strange as this may sound. I’m including below a few words closing out the 150 pages of the book which take place in the high desert of northern New Mexico. I trust you find them inspiring.
The story then moves on to Arizona, New Zealand, Canada and the Netherlands.
Lashings of Ignorance and Dollops of Greed
y time in the high desert garden of my creation gave me occasion for reflection. My experiences with the squirrels and the rattle snakes helped to shatter a myth I believe Western civilization has been guided by for a long time, too long—that nature is the enemy and something to be controlled and exploited.
I began to view nature as a friend, a teacher, a guide. Not always a gentle teacher. Sometimes the lessons were dispensed with startling alacrity, like a Zen Roshi dispensing a rebuke to a recalcitrant monk. I appreciated the clear lessons, in hindsight at least. They were probably necessary to break through the conditioning I was so entangled with. Just being in this remote setting gave me perspective, gave me an opportunity to view the life I had led until then from a distance, so to speak. I hadn’t counted on the extra, sometimes harsh, reminders of a deeper reality that permeated my relationship with nature.
And I came to realize, with the help of my serpentine friends, there was nothing to fear from nature when nature had nothing to fear from me.
For hundreds, if not thousands, of years man has conducted a full-scale frontal assault on nature. The evidence is omnipresent and undeniable. This very land, of which I was a temporary caretaker, was quite literally riddled with such evidence—with mines, shafts and adits—testimony to the greed of a few in search of the raw materials fuelling the insatiable appetites of the many, of all of us, for more.
The Anasazi had penetrated a mountain in search of turquoise, the Spanish had enslaved Indians in search of greater mineral riches and late nineteenth and early twentieth century miners had stripped the vegetation and pockmarked the earth in search of lead, silver and gold. As if that wasn’t enough, visitors from afar, from the land of my birth, had arrived in 1990, and had come very close to creating an open pit mine enormous enough to engulf and obliterate the damage inflicted by the aforementioned and mostly uninvited callers.
Man’s continuing quest for material improvement, fuelled as often as not, by an advertising industry bent on convincing us that more is better, and much more is better still, came with a price, and that price stood right before my eyes, in the scars of a thirsty and denuded desert plateau.
It is a small step from digging in the sandbox as a boy to digging for gold as a man; a small step for a man and a giant leap for mankind. We had come inexpressibly close to making the leap from relatively inconsequential shafts, adits and slag heaps of concentrated heavy metals to an open pit mine of unimaginably horrific proportions and supported by cyanide-laced leach ponds capable of wiping out countless small animals and birds. We had come exceedingly close to leaping into the frightening abyss of an open pit gold mine
It was a relatively small step from killing one mammoth for food to herding a hundred over a cliff at once and then to waking up one day to find no mammoths at all. In recent history that pattern had been repeated with alarming frequency. The only place to find dodos, aurochs and moas today is in a book or on the internet. Zoos such as the Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust in the Channel Islands are now seen as arks, sanctuaries of last resort for many of the world’s endangered species. God promised Noah that such a flood would not revisit man, but I wonder if we know the consequences of our own ruthless actions.
European man’s relentless urge to improve and to conquer, to take over the lands of his neighbors, has left today’s race to pick up the pieces, where those pieces are not beyond repair. The great deserts of the world, the Sahara included, are largely of man’s making. The Romans had turned the North African bread basket into an inhospitable desert suitable only for the hardiest camels and Bedouins. This land on which I stood and toiled in New Mexico had been dense with waist-high grass just over a century before. Now, the few cattle left to graze turned to cacti as a food source as often as not.
What lies at the roots of this relentless call to conquer? Have we forgotten our connectedness with all of existence? Is humanity’s increasing sense of powerlessness and desperation inversely proportional to the amount of wilderness left on the Earth?
We’ve been taught to fear the vampire, yet acted like vampires ourselves. We’ve been taught to fear the shark, while proving to be a more formidable predator ourselves. The shark, which has survived relatively unchanged for millions of years, is ruthlessly slaughtered at present to provide fins for an expensive soup.
The memories of the buffalo still haunt the Great Plains and prairies of North America today. Their cry can be heard in the hearts of those prepared to listen.
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Radio host, inspirational speaker and health educator John Haines is the author of In Search of Simplicity: A True Story that Changes Lives, a startlingly poignant and inspiring real-life endorsement of the power of thought, belief and synchronicity in one’s life.
“In Search of Simplicity is a unique and awe-inspiring way to re-visit and even answer some of the gnawing questions we all intrinsically have about the meaning of life and our true, individual purpose on the planet. I love this book.”
Barbara Cronin, Circles of Light. For the complete review visit: http://www.circlesoflight.com/blog/in-search-of-simplicity/
“In Search of Simplicity is one of those rare literary jewels with the ability to completely and simultaneously ingratiate itself into the mind, heart and soul of the reader.”
Heather Slocumb, Apex Reviews