July 4, 2022
*Written several days ago, but had no internet until today.
I've had the great benefit of spending the last few Fourths of July high in the mountains in our summer place - here with the birds and the running brooks and the stillness between the sounds. It's a great place for reflection. Do you remember those Coors beer commercials from the 1990s where you'd see vast panoramas of green and blue Coloradan country? Yeah, it's a lot like that. I'm content living in a beautiful beer commercial! Here, today, on the 4th, I've thought about what America means to me, and I realized the idea of America is not important, really at all. The land, the freedom of being deep in a trail, wondering if today is the day I will be killed by a bear, is what America is to me. Perhaps in some ways I share this love of America with our dear friends, the First People, the Native Americans - who, I believe, are the only people here who have a spiritual connection to the land. (If you disagree, consider what industrialists have done to the wilderness in only the last 50 years.) Many in this nation believe that eco-minded folks are stupid. The irony of ironies. This is our only home!
So, I wouldn't describe myself as proud of being an American, because I frankly don't know what that means. Not in a good way, not in a bad way; I just don't grasp the concept of pride at all. I do know many people are proud of their countries and I think "Good for them." What I can say is that I am very happy here in nature, in America, being anonymous among the ferns and mountain lions. The noble trees out this way are more American than most of our citizens. By that I mean they just are, they just exist here as part and parcel of this great land. They don't want anything. They are content.
The older I get, the less I want to be caught up in our semi-recent constructs of what being an American means, or, my god, the now-weaponized term PATRIOT. I do not believe in us versus them. I do not wish to add to the mind-violence in this country today. I refuse to "pick a side" because those divisions are the creation of the mind. It's not real. What's real is hearing the call of an eagle high up in a tree.
Don't get me wrong, I am deeply thankful for the men and women who have paid the ultimate sacrifice so that I can be here enjoying life as it is. Veterans deserve all the gratitude in the world and, more than that, deserve access to healthcare when they arrive home. No vet should be homeless. That's a topic for another time.
I value so many folks in this country, just as I value friends in other countries. There is no difference, though. People are the same on this ground as they are by the North Sea.
It's not un-American to think that way. It's the truth.