Make It Better

From Patagonia‘s infant blog The Cleanest Line comes a parable of leading a group of 15-year-olds into the Grand Tetons. The kids do not know silence, do not respect the grandeur. At least, when they enter the woods.

I stay outside of their circle, the old guy who doles out advice, corrections, and bad jokes. Then, one day, leading the pack on our ascent of a remote peak in the Tetons, Jack guides us into a small sea of ripe wild fruit. Leaves like large, green, luminous plates shroud dense, luscious clusters of fat, wild huckleberries. Waist deep and wading through this abundance, Jack turns a glance over his shoulder, and with a quick, empurpled smile states simply, “God loves us.” I’m not religious, but I feel a current moving in his words: he knows already the blessings of wild places.

If we are worried about losing the next generation (and, hell, my generation) to the Internet and text messaging and MySpace, perhaps we needn’t be. Because those things can embellish lives, but they can’t give them meaning. And whether or not they think they need it, anyone can discover just how wondrous it is.

I’ve been guilty of pessimism, of giving up and thinking that maybe the best we can do is hold out hope that somehow people will find the Earth to be enough again someday, but this little tale reminds me that making the effort to drag some kids out there, to introduce them to the beauty of the real world, might be worth it.

“What did you hear?”

Creek. Trout leap. Rustle of leaves. Elk bugle. Screech of hawk.

The circle comes around. It’s Jack’s turn.

In the midst of these yet-unfolding sounds, Jack closes his eyes again to find his own.

“Simple,” Jack says. “I hear simple.”

He opens his eyes again and smiles, the stain of wild huckleberries on his teeth.

2 thoughts on “Make It Better

  1. rosie

    i don’t know that i’ve ever tasted huckleberries. but the moment that the kid tasted them and said that god loves us–that’s beautiful and gives me hope too.

    on our deathbeds, when we search in our last moments for god and peace and understanding, what are we looking for but the same feeling we get when we are standing in a field of wild huckleberries?

  2. cK

    Ah, before the Internet and Nintendo and such there were great machines ripping up farms and turning them into subdivisions and interstates. And there were draglines the size of football fields carving out coal seams. And further back…

    Something is always there distracting us, and it’s always a thing about human advance and access–access to food supplies and information and one another.

    But I don’t think any generation goes by without realizations of what we’re always losing, which is land. It’s not expressed the same way, and a great deal of disrespect and bad decisions take place, but each generation figures it out.

    It does help to introduce them to it earlier, even if in those years they don’t see it quite right. They will, eventually.

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