Sunday, February 26, 2006

I'm But A Leaf On The Tree Of Life...

Click on photo to enlarge

A native California Black Oak (Quercus kelloggii) leaf found in the yard on Friday, February 24th, 2006.

This entry is an edited version of my response to comments on my last two posts.

Thank you all for your thought-provoking comments and ideas, but please hear me out thoughtfully before you judge this post as negative, hopeless, or, on the other hand, naively optimistic.

Honestly, I don't believe our challenge today is to be optimistic, I believe it's too late for the optimism of ‘best possible outcomes’.

There is nothing optimistic in the inevitable human population crash that is coming, or in the mass extinctions upon us now, but I do believe our challenge as individuals, is to survive.

Hope and optimism are words with two completely different meanings.

Evolutionary biology has shown us that life is self-perpetuating, and that each individual, of every species, has an intense desire for survival.

So, it's only natural that I feel a responsibility, as a human being, to use every tool given me, through evolution, including language and communication, in finding a way toward survival, for me, my family, and ultimately, my species.

What I've learned from the challenge of being a human, and, as an individual who desires to continue living, is that the long-term survival of any species depends upon the individuals of that species cooperating within the laws of nature.

I'm hopeful because I'm alive, because there is much beauty in the world, because we are so adaptable, and yet, even in death or extinction, I see hope.

I'm not religious, and have little interest in the dominant theological fairytales & myths of our time. I believe mostly in what I see. But, at the same time, I do have a deeply spiritual nature and don't dis-believe what I can't see.

What I do see though, is that all life is interconnected, that the earth we walk upon, the food we eat, the very air we breath, is the living embodiment of all the lives that came before. That we are literally eating and breathing our ancestors, and that everything alive today, is in fact, the living culmination of all those lives that preceded us.

And I see clearly, that when I die, my atoms, and my molecules, simply rejoin this marvelous stew in some other form, contributing to the ongoing processes of life and evolution.

But science can't teach us everything, and I also sense, in the evolution of life, a universal consciousness and a passionate desire, that, in the constant struggle for survival, tends toward diversity, so that, even in death, I can envision being part of some eternal mysterious journey over which I have absolutely no control, and I find that liberating.

Right now I'm just Jim, a member of the Homo sapiens clan, and my job is to survive, to live, and, seeing how I've been given a voice, to speak.

But actions still speak louder than words…

…and believe me friends, I haven't accomplished so much.

I live on a Civil Service pension, not from a sustainable life on the land. Yes, I've made some progress toward a more realistic lifestyle, but I’m still a consumer, I pay taxes and enable corporations, and my government, to wage war and destruction upon the world, and I struggle daily with my own shortcomings and failures.

Here are some thoughts from Albert Einstein;

"A human being is part of a whole, the universe. Our task is to free ourselves from the delusion of separateness, to embrace all living creatures, and the whole of nature".

And, from the book , 'Microcosmos', by Lynn Margulis and Dorion Sagan;

"Life did not take over the globe by combat, but by networking. Life forms multiplied and complexified by co-opting others, not just by killing them".


Today is our one-year bloggiversary!

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Blogger Granny said...

Happy blogiversary.

Maybe optimism is too strong a word but I'm not ready to give up hope just yet.

Of course it sometimes depends on which news headline I read first.

4:06 PM  
Blogger Jim said...


Exactly, hope and optimism are two words with completely different meanings.

4:20 PM  
Blogger Madcap said...

Congrats on sticking it out for a whole year, Jim!

I don't know what to think any more. Hope. I don't even know what to hope for. I guess I'll just keep making seed lists.

5:34 PM  
Blogger Deb said...

First of all, happy Blogiversary!

As far as subsidising my government, based on my income (as a civil servant for my state) I owed no Federal taxes for 2004. Having some foresight, I had none withheld. However, due to my having reproduced thrice, I find I am entitled to a tax refund of, well let's just say it might be the same as one of my paychecks. I'm taking it, on the basis of I can't find any one thing my Federal governement is doing for me, or for the nation, that I can approve of! As if it will make any difference.

6:54 PM  
Blogger Joseph said...

Hi buddy - I'm not as curious about how to live on the land, but I am curious to know what kinds of things kept you and your spouse together through what sounds like such hardship to a city-boy like me. I'm recently engaged, and I'm trying to soak up as much as possible, because there's wisdom in a multitude of counsel.

7:16 PM  
Blogger Jim said...


What can I say?

Nothing is perfect, but we hang together, we help one another, we read the same books, we hike the same trails, we love and understand each other.

7:49 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Greetings Dear Friend Jim:
As a spiritual person and writer, may I commend to you my book, Master of the Jinn: A Sufi Novel, a mystical adventure tale on the Sufi path of Love. I think you will like it.
You can view the book and read an excerpt at
In the name of the Merciful, 10% of all profits go to charity.

Peace and Blessings,


8:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

first- your photo is a wallhanger. Print it big and hang it on your wall :)

secondly- I admire your honesty and your unique way of putting your views into a language that not only my mind can understand.. but my heart.

We need to share the vision of our path with the blind – but we can only present the vision – the blind must open their eyes – that we can not do for them.

8:52 PM  
Blogger Jim said...

Cindy, sister Walela-

I love you.

9:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


Your sentiments remind me of a Scott Nearing quote, from a video interview in 1975 when he was 95:

"I have many doubts, many doubts, no certainties, a lot of confidence, and much enthusiasm about the possibility during this lifespan of making some sort of contribution to the expansion of our expanding universe. Now, that conribution may only consist of turning this brush into topsoil and adding it to the topsoil here rather than standing this way and watching it wash down the Penobscott River ...."

5:11 AM  
Blogger robin andrea said...

Happy Blogiversary, Jim.

I am reminded of a very smart comment I read over at Niches the other day posted by someone named Leslie:

My husband and I count ourselves amongst the “sane tinfoil hat” people that have an underlying sense of approaching problems. Whether they’ll be short-lived (i.e. Katrina or Avian Flu) or something that changes the world as we know it (peak oil) it just makes sense to be prepared. We have two levels of preparedness (well, not yet, but we’re working on it).

Level I is for the sort term problems. Stockpiled and rotated foodstuffs, toiletries. Backup heat and cooking methods for when the power goes out.

Level II is learning to garden and store our produce, and learning about herbal medicines. Learning to save seeds so we can have a garden next year without relying on the seed vendors. Acquiring some hand tools.

We use and rotate everything we stockpile. And we comfort ourselves (and chase “insane” from the list of adjectives that comprises our self image) by reminding ourselves that if something happens, we’re ready. And if nothing happens, we’re ready for that too.

If we add her list to your post, I think we have a way of holding life that is a practical plan and a knowledgeable path with heart.

8:21 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great site!

I'm in complete agreement with your recent comments on anthropocentrism, ecocide and corporatism, and I'm very encouraged to find yet one more person that "gets it."

Three cheers from one of the few radicals in the Lower Mississippi Delta, a land where everything gets trampled and tortured, flora, fauna, water, air...the lot. Apparently, everything's game when there's a profit to be made.

Namaste Brother!

2:59 PM  
Blogger javaseeker said...

Life changes perpetually as we live it, we have simply accelerated a downward curve in the evolutionary process by our greed. There will be a tomorrow, it's just too bad we're making it a lot less liveable.

cheers to your blogiversary, I raise my glass of sherry for another!

5:10 PM  
Blogger roger said...

"cooperating within the laws of nature." sounds like something from a book titled "ishmael."

i am optimistic that the laws of nature will prevail, or perhaps are unbendable, well, anyway that we are subject to those laws.

i'm also planting our garden.

happy bloggiversary!!!

8:37 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi jim, I've been meaning to send you a comment for quite some time, (I'm mike's wife, of white oak mtn journal) this post says so much of how I feel. I love what you and your wife are telling us thru your actions on a daily basis. Thank you for inspiring me. P.S. I hope my hair is as beautiful as your wife's when mine turns silver. I love that she keeps it long,she is absolutely beautiful.

6:50 PM  
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12:39 AM  

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