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Saturday, March 30, 2013
The old has gone, the new is here!
— Corinthians 5:17
White Man celebrates something that happened 2,000 years ago.... Indians celebrate what’s happening now. When the sacred strawberries come up in early spring, that’s what we celebrate.... They’re the Creator’s gift to his children.
— Chief Louis Farmer, Onondaga
Swimming laps, early in Holy Week, while snow blew across the high windows, I thought about the “new creation.”
It’s an ancient expression and reality, whether examined by the old sages or the “new physics” of recent decades.
After all, old energies in the universe can’t just vanish and be no more. They get recreated into new reality. That’s the way of the cosmos.
Humans get to participate consciously in this renewal — if only we will. Conscious re-creation is a rare privilege on this planet. That’s why it seems wrong and sad when we don’t — it counters our nature, and nature itself.
New life loves to spring out of an old mess, if only we humans can allow — even help, as we are perfectly equipped to do — this creative renewal.
Ours is a time of planetary crisis, ripe for such transformation. Dispirited humans of all ages yearn for new life.
Likewise our disordered natural world would love to restore itself and us, if only we — whose mindless ways are disrupting that process — would step outside, fan some oxygen to our faces and rejoin the play and way of this universe.
Natural and human re-creation go together — all one immensity that opens the circuits, rather than closing them.
This has long been the perception of “Doc” Shiner, of Max Meadows.
A longtime Scouting official and conservationist, Doc is retired from Slippery Rock University in Pennsylvania, where he “attempted to educate students, many of them desiring to be ‘recreation professionals,’ in ways to use their leisure productively,” he wrote me.
“By productively, I mean in a manner that improved their life and the lives of those they encountered along life’s way, that strengthened their character, that created a sense of being one with the world, of giving back in appreciation of all they had derived from life: in short, of living a life filled with love, adventure, righteousness and FUN.”
He was commenting on this column’s mention of binge-drinking — the predominant and uncreative form of weekend “recreation” on many college campuses.
“The alcohol abuse = fun syndrome is something I continually fought,” he said. “I saw too many young lives ruined because of this.”
Because we elders are the ones from whom the young learn these unimaginative, numb-minded ways, Doc added, “It’s a shame that we as a society seem to have adopted ‘un-fun’ as the norm for our lives and activities.”
Pamela Humphrey agreed, writing from the Giles County farm where her family, garden and animals all recreate each lively day.
“‘Fun’ to me,” she said, “is going, ‘Oh, Honey, look at the beautiful clouds.’ Or planting my garden in the spring and anticipating the results. Or brushing my horse till he shines like a new copper penny. Or eating something delicious with good friends while we discuss something of meaning to us all.”
She added, “’Fun’ is not drinking enough alcohol to be incapable of accurately interpreting the meaning of anything. Nor becoming unable to discuss it through my slurred speech. Nor watching anyone or anything suffer, either physically or emotionally. Nor anticipating NASCAR wrecks.”
Face to Facebook
Ed Bunce of Blacksburg, a retired biochemistry professor, shared my regret over what he called “the withdrawal of our young people into digital remoteness.”
I’d noticed that students now no longer went dancing, sang together or had picnics or hikes or even tossed a football across campus. Everyone was looking down at a phone. On weekends, apart from work, they stayed home — online — connected but disconnected. That’s how they’d grown up, many told me.
Bunce remembered livelier connections.
“I grew up in South Jersey, playing unorganized baseball, basketball and table tennis. We also spent time exploring the nearby fields and marshes both on foot and by canoe. I helped newly hatched turtles reach a watery haven.”
He recalled some not-online dating, as well.
“While a student at VT in the ’50s I met Jo, my future wife, at Radford. Our college dates were dances and movies and picnics at Claytor Lake with a guitar and singing. I didn’t text her every day but when I called her once a week, I was always thrilled just to hear her warm response over the phone. Voices are so much more pleasant than texts.”
He added humorously, “A student asked me a couple of years ago if I was on Facebook. I answered, ‘No. I know who my friends are and I see them as often as possible.”
But Bunce acknowledged, “The world is different now and won’t go back.”
It can, however, be re-created.
Liza Field’s column runs every other Saturday in Extra.
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