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June 18, 2000

Fatherís Day

Iím put in mind of another way in which we differ from most living things; in that we form familial bonds that last throughout our lifetimes.
To be bound up in generations intertwined is not the way of Life, as such. Parents must give way to children, who must themselves become parents, and give way. A path is made through Time, but it is only opened through departures.
Our species makes that path into a chain, which links, if it does not bind.
Our continuance of the reciprocal relationship between parent and child mirrors the self-awareness that characterizes genus Homo. The recognition of the Self, and of the Parent, are identifications of the same order. Human Culture provides a context in which these identities need not be limited to breeding behavior.

As I think of my father, in his age, and my youth, I realize that he knew, and communicated, in his own way, many of the Mysteries that I have pointed at in these pages. That I have had to learn them for myself, despite his efforts, is a measure of the degree to which Humans also participate in a nature which seeks no more than continuity, without regard for consciousness.
Dadís consciousness has always been an inspiration to me.
Much of what I do in the Arboretum is a recapitulation of the nature walks that we habitually took when I was a child. Most summer Sundays found us looking at bugs, or plants, or stars, or whatever it might be. What was clear was that it was all interesting, and that it all mattered, in some crucial way; a way requiring our attention.
That we frequented nature parks, rather than amusement parks, was perhaps an economic indicator, but there was an implicit assumption, almost a morality, as well: a premise I have sought to live up to, ever since.
What my father seemed to suggest to me was that, no matter how restrictive circumstances might be, we always have access to larger worlds of nature and of culture. These worlds are virtually free, and they repay attention with a sort of pure value (an ecstasy), worth more than anything which can be bought.

If every parent could teach this lesson to their offspring, the World would be a better place. Itís a lesson that anyone can learn, but it can only be taught by someone who Knows. Iím thankful that my Dad is one of those.