Second Naivete

Imbolc                                       Black Mountain Moon

You may think, if you plowed through my three posts on becoming native to this place, that I’m some sort of latter day hippie, wanting everyone to move on to their own plot of land, get a few goats and some chickens. Not at all.

I love cities, their density, their bubbling creativity, their opportunity, their mashing together of various arts institutions, their unique cuisines and architecture. Cities have a distinct sense of place, they’re the baltimore oriole nests of our species, baggy, unusual, idiosyncratic.

When I argue that we all must once again become native to this place, this earth, I mean we must go through what Paul Ricoeur called a “second naivete.” That is, we must bracket the electric light, the central heating, the walls and streetlights, the grocery stores and the sidewalks. We must bracket the car, the bus, the train, the plane, the subway and the streetcar or light rail.

We need to see once again the night sky filled with stars. We need to smell once again clover growing in a meadow. Stand in the shade of great trees. Imagine the soil beneath our feet and remember that it produces our food. Wander in the wilderness and recall that once this was all there was. We must become of the planet, native terrans. We need to become vulnerable again to the changes of the seasons, to the fall of night as a time of darkness.

We must reinsert ourselves into the ecosystems of this planet, but this time in a healthy way, not as a pathogen intent on destroying all so that only we might live.

How do we go about this? How do we once again become native to this place? I’m not sure, not right now, but it’s something I think about every day. I’ll keep at it. Maybe you will, too. And maybe you’ll have some ideas about it, too.

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