And the passing of an Elder
Everything you're writing recently is incredible and this is beautiful. And now I finally have to go read Horizon because it's an enormous book and I've been putting it off.
I was listening to a podcast this morning where the host and guest were talking about climate change and resistance to "believing in" it from very conservative people they knew. The host described himself as part of the problem, being independence-minded and worrying more about the alligator that is just about to eat his leg than the flood that is forecast to come a week later. (Weird analogy but made sense in the context.) And I thought--that's the main issue. Not the *disbelieving* of science, whether it's climate or viruses or whatever, but the complete lack of understanding that our choices don't just affect us. They affect all sorts of people near and far, and the question is whether we care enough to act as if our choices matter to other people's health and survival. My own frustration, living in one of those anti-masking places you mention, is how many people have imbibed and completely embodied the ideology that it is both human nature and our patriotic duty to only care about ourselves and our immediately family's welfare.
But you're right, I'll never get anywhere by being angry and filled with hate. I love reading Lopez, but your writing has been more of a ballast for me and I'm sure for many others, so whatever you're doing, don't doubt that it's coming from and filling the spaces it's meant to.
Your blog provides the inspiration I need this morning as a loved one is dying of cancer. Thankfully, my sons are providing much needed support and compassion. I will purchase Lopez’s book as I love his genre. Tom Ryan, who wrote Following Atticus and Will’s Red Coat recommended your blog to me, and I am so glad he did. It is a pleasure to read your blogs. Thank you for your kindness.
Crow and Weasel, one of my favourites, still in my shelves. You wrote a meaningful tribute. His like will not be again.
I love Of Wolves and Men. Horizon and Underland are going on my list to purchase.
After being laid off in my early 50’s I became a deli worker for a year. Customer service is not for the faint of heart.
Due to my little knitting podcast I have been the recipient of so much kindness this holiday season; viewers reaching out to express their appreciation. It’s a bit overwhelming. But it’s also been a great reminder of the kindness that exists. As your article reminds us. Be kind. That was my message to my viewers on Christmas Eve, because most of us deserve it. Thank you, Chris. Please never stop writing.
One of the biggest blessings of working in coffee shops for as many years as I did was getting to experience those weird moments of humanity between myself and the people passing through. It's a delight to see a brief gasp of humanity in another person, and such a shame that it tends to take intense pain to create.
Chris, this is lovely and heartbreaking and inspiring. Thank you.
So beautiful. It is almost certain that everyone IS carrying some truly painful stories. I think we allow our hearts to crack open and then humanity pours out, or we set them in concrete and our humanity becomes harder to recognize.
Every day. Lessons. It's a practice, being present, like writing. You have to be present to write something that others want to read, and the act of writing/thinking helps you be present. Any way you want to slice it or dice it, it feels better to actively live the moments of your life. Our more primitive selves did it to stay alive, to eat, to read the world around them. I guess we still do that, but like Lopez and you, I enjoy the experience of watching nature, of paying attention. The wolf inside pants for us. Survival of the fittest? Fitness has to do with awareness, cooperation, kindness, sharing, and love. Great piece, man. Your essay voice reminds me of Brian Doyle or Melissa Stephenson. Take that! High praise, my friend. Thank you, and write on!
Haven't though of Lopez in some time, but read him decades ago. I recently saw you letter in Sun mag (Nov. issue?) referring to JH - a friend gave me that issue out of the blue, must be another universe-al thing. Best wishes to you, and all of us, as we enter what is, hopefully, a better new year.
This is beautiful Chris, thank you
He’s a writer I wish I’d read more of. I read him long ago, but lost track. Now I am catching up.
Chris, have you crossed paths with this attached interview? I began reading Lopez in my early twenties while in college in Albany, NY, or actually after I dropped out and haunted the bookstores. His voice made such an impression on me. I wrote him a letter of gratitude once, and he was kind enough to write back. I believe it is from his book of essays Crossing Open Ground--but don't quote me on this--when Lopez meets a Jewish man who had immigrated from Europe to avoid persecution via Canada to Alaska by crossing the international border through a giant swath of trees shaved down to the ground. Lopez wrote that he was outraged by the arbitrary destruction of the trees, and told that man as much. The man said, and I paraphrase, "Easiest border crossing of my life."
Desert Notes/River Notes was the Lopez that stuck here for me ... during those years I was river guiding and ski bumming and trying to figure out how to write and how to live. I have Horizon on the shelf, but don't have the attention span just now.
I got brought up short late this summer by someone I was being a bitch to, someone who had a story, even though her appearance predisposed me to thinking she didn't. Trying trying trying to remember it -- we may get through this part of the pandemic, but as someone noted below, even if we escape the alligator, the flood is coming. And we're going to need one another.
Lovely post Chris -- thanks ...
Every time someone walks on, each time they walk with the old ones, the elders, I pause and ask silently: What can I do to fill the void left behind?
Years ago, I encountered a man, a master storyteller, and I marveled at his abilities, skills, and talents and wondered how I could become like him. It took years to realize and accept that I could not become like him because I could not be him. Instead, I should consider what I have to offer the world and make the most of it through humility and modesty, and know that doing so, some day, I will be allowed to stand shoulder to shoulder with those who came before.
Chris thanks your reminder comes at the perfect time for me.
Thank you! <3