Saturday, June 30, 2012

Druids look beyond instant gratification

In my recent post "More on not having it all," I wrote, "Humans have tried to create a world where any desire can be fulfilled. If you want something, just search the internet and enter your credit card number."

I think that the expectation of instant gratification pervades our society.  Becoming a druid has helped me to see things in a different way.

I used to think that if I wanted to learn something, I could just read a book on it or take a class on it, and then I would know it.  When I become a druid, I realized it's not always like that.

Reading a book on druidry doesn't make you an expert on druidry.  Being a druid is a lifelong process.  Every day we meditate, touch nature, listen, read, and think.  Every day we grow, but never do we learn all there is to know.

One of the first things I did when I became a druid was to get a book about trees from the library.  I did eventually read the book from cover to cover, but that does not mean I have now mastered the topic of trees and can move on to something else.  Getting to know trees is a lifelong endeavor. There are many ways to know trees.  Some people are fascinated to learn about the biological processes that take place within the tree, but that is not my way.  Some enjoy poring over identification keys, figuring out the species of the tree before them.  As for me, I love to lie on the ground beneath the tree and look up into layer upon layer of leaves.  I like to photograph trees, to capture the way the light shines through them.  I like to watch the way the trees change with the seasons, to see what emerges first in the spring, which color the leaves turn in the fall, and which tree's leaves stay green the longest in the fall.  I like to leaf through The Sibley Guide to Trees, marveling at all the beautiful pictures.  I like it when I'm wandering outside and see a tree that I did not know before, and recognize it from having seen it in the book.  When I go outside, I'm captivated by the trees surrounding me.  I'm captivated by their beauty.  I'm captivated with curiosity about them.  I love the grace of the sycamore branches.  When I see a tree that I don't know, I'm intrigued and try to figure out what it is.  I don't use the identification keys in the books so much.  I flip through the books to try to match it with the pictures.  If the tree has some unique attribute, I search the internet for that attribute.

But this was not a post about trees.  It is a post about the limitation of expecting instant gratification.  The tree example was to show that if you try to grasp something in an instant, there is much you miss.

Where I live, summer weather is often lovely, but occasionally too hot.  When the weather becomes too hot, I turn on the air conditioner.  I don't like to have to do it.  Air conditioning relieves me from the heat in the immediate sense, but what about the big picture? In the big picture, air conditioning is about consumption of fossil fuels, about contributing to climate change.

A few weeks ago, I sat in a cafe, enjoying a glass of iced coffee with a slice of chocolate cake, with a dollop of whipped cream beside the cake.  What went into getting these things to the table? Who grew, who harvested, who processed, who transported the coffee, the chocolate, the flour, the cream, the butter, the sugar, the eggs?

I think it is the responsibility of the druid to look beyond instant gratification, to look at the big picture, to look at the impact of our actions.

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