Monday, March 2, 2009

Doughton State Park, Blue Ridge Parkway, North Carolina 7.-8.8.1994: Lambent World, Plaited Hills

At Bluffs Lodge, Doughton State Park, where Steve and I spent time last fall. Just had to get away. A harrowing day, about which I won’t write, as it’s late in the evening.

Morning now, Doughton Park. Thinking of that passage in Thoreau I love so, as I watch the hills, mist silently capturing trees on their crests: how all the world flows, in creation, so that the lapsed world becomes lambent. The hills of the Blue Ridge, as they dwindle to dale and fold here at its northern North Carolina boundary, say this to me so powerfully, with their glad unfolding as they lie plaited over the earth.

This beauty. I respond to it. So do many others. That tells me there must be something in some landscapes that speaks insistently to the human heart, to some types of human hearts.

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Nature: it used to have such healing strength for me. Where has that strength gone? As I read Mary Oliver, I sense that at least part of the answer lies in the extent to which I’ve permitted myself to live only in the rational, professional, ultimately self-obsessed, brain. My sympathy for mute creatures diminishes as a result, in direct proportion to this extent.

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Freedom: have I bought what little freedom I have at too great cost? More and more, I feel like a character in an Edith Wharton novel, who has tried to kick over the traces, made a bit of freedom for herself, but doesn’t know what on earth to do with it now, such a strange creature she has become to all the world else. Or like what’s her name in Sinclair Lewis’s Main Street.

But I like that sense of being true to what most deeply impels me, compels me, inside. Fulminate as he will, the Pope can’t convince me that this is not conscience, this impulsion to truth, freedom, love. Perhaps my problem is that I’m too conscious . . . . .

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