The Future of this Wild Place is Up For Grabs
EDITOR’S NOTE: The excerpt below comes from a Rick Bass essay, “Bonfire,” from the Summer 2001 edition of Tricycle: The Buddhist Review. It speaks to his activism to preserve the wildness of the Yaak Valley where he lives near the confluence of the Montana-Idaho-British Columbia borders. Just as important, if not more so, he addresses the activist’s weary heart from the long fight, wondering how to balance the need to keep up the fight against the need for solitude, recuperation and stillness within that wilderness. Bass writes from the fierce — if winded — and throbbing heart of the trueblood activist-artist-seeker-protector of wild places. I offer it to those who work and struggle, who create and advocate, on behalf of the wildness of West Virginia.
“Fiercely, I believe that every ounce of energy counts. The future of this wild place, and indeed of this wild state, is up for grabs. Hope still exists for this bioregion. Not the distant hope of the future, but hope in the moment, hope now, that the wildness of this place can be preserved. Hope that even just one more person’s voice, no matter whether strident or calm, can help tip the balance of time and circumstance for this relatively unpeopled landscape; hope that one ore poem, photograph, song can help tip the cant of fate toward the preservation of of the wild, the thing itself, rather than away.
“The situation demands that I hurry up and work harder and so I do — and yet even far within me, like the sound of metal banging against metal in a high wind, I hear, and feel, that yearning to slow down and step back; and I do not know what to do except to jeep doing both things, the thong and the shadow of the thing — making pretty little pictures, and continuing on with the slogging grunt-work of the hardcore activist — until one day, I assume, nothing will be left. There is nothing that cannot be tossed into the bonfire of awareness …”
~ Rick Bass, from “Bonfire,” Tricycle: The Buddhist Review, Summer 2001