Over and over I notice middle-aged and older people acting with a sense of urgency to do the things important to them now, while they can.
A coworker travels to Peru and China, leaving less-adventurous Europe for when she's older.
Friends venturing into the Boundary Waters Canoe Area on their own, where you paddle and portage your gear through wild lakes haunted by the calls of northern loons under a sea of stars.
Traveling off the beaten path to Cuba and Cusco, before health concerns make such travel difficult.
Picking up and moving to a new house or city. Daring to quit a traditional job — to give up wage servitude and lose health insurance and a measure of security — in order to gain greater control of one's own life through self-employment.
One who retired and went to the Dominican Republic to build houses through Habitat for Humanity. Another who retired and wants to leave the country to teach English as a second language. One a master naturalist who began a nonprofit on environmental education and stewardship in one's own neighborhood.
As for me, I always thought travel was my dream. I am fortunate to have pursued that dream, to the extent that time and money have allowed.
(My other dream was to be a writer of novels. And I did write two unpublished novels, whom I love very much. But ultimately I loved the idea of being a novel writer more than the reality of how much time it took away from being outside with the sky and wind and trees....)
As a young woman I expected to always be excited by the thought of traveling to new cities and lands. Now I've changed, and travel doesn't hold the rewards it used to. Travel (or maybe it's more fairly called tourism) often leaves me with the overall uneasy feeling of consuming rather than learning.
Maybe I'll figure out a more satisfying way to travel, maybe I won't, but the point is I feel in transition with it. Neither here nor there.
Today I'm taking stock. If that's not the dream around which to arrange my priorities anymore, then what is? What is the thing I feel I must do before it is too late?
Small acts of devotion to the earth, repeated over time.
Applied dreams, inspired by a desire to help, heal, restore.
Actions that are radical, because taking positive action is radical.
Tending actions that begin small, in partnership with earth, and that then build on themselves through a positive feedback loop, as the land begins to flourish, repaying many times the care lavished on her.
Actions that do not consume, but rather feed, give, nourish.
I am so particularly moved by instances where one individual took upon themselves a momentous task to restore a forest, or a jungle, or abandoned ranchland or farmland, or a prairie — and then did this work faithfully and often alone, for many years. This to me is love in action.
I am not a mother. Where are my children, my small legacy to the earth?
It is the trees I planted with the earth, the gardens I made with the earth.
I feel a sense of calling. I believe that if it feels like a calling, then one should listen.
In spring, I begin once again in my own back yard, planting, with the help of the earth, in this new place.
But I will keep my ear to the ground, trusting it will tell me what comes next.