All along the way, I have been involved in environmental activism. I don't understand how a rational human being, when confronted with a burning bible, will feel outrage and yet will stand by complacently as one half of the “Heaven and Earth” creation is maimed and destroyed. Regardless of your feelings about the messages inside it, any particular bible is a bit of work by man. It is an act of commerce. I think it is a tragic flaw in the design of the human psyche that burning a bible or whatever religious text can provoke murderous rage. Yet the destruction of something that humankind cannot replace, destroying what is an unarguable part of the creation spoken of in those man produced texts, an irreplaceable bit of life on planet earth, will be complacently tolerated in the name of jobs or profit.
Long ago I realized that I felt better when I sought truth in the works of creation than any other way. There is more information written in a spoonful of healthy forest dirt than in all the books ever printed by mankind. I won't have time on this planet to read it all, so I need to work to save it for those in the future who will be so blessed. I invested a majority of the proceeds from selling my business into protecting, as best I can, a small part of creation from the destructive practices of mankind.
Over this lifetime Mrs. Creek and I have done all right on the economic front. On paper, we could live better than well. In day to day practice we try to get by on a little bit more than the minimum so that we can do something we love. We allow ourselves enough to get by and live frugally. It is not a bad way to go and is rewarding, but choices must be made. We have dedicated a fair portion of our resources into protecting Whites Creek Gorge in East Tennessee. This is a work in progress as it will always be. It takes time and money. This is a problem that must be dealt with. I admit to being a manly man and I have my manly toys. The guitar collection some of you know about, but there are also farm machines, bicycles, outdoor gear, and cameras. A part of the ongoing negotiations in our marriage contract, my wife and I decided I had enough toys and that in order to get a new toy, I had to sell an old toy. Fair enough and actually a good and workable plan. After 60 a boy needs fewer toys anyway and the old ones clutter the place up.
In addition to being ready for some new and better toys, we placed a conservation easement on one mile of Whites Creek. This turned out to cost more than projected. It is surprising how expensive it is to give something away, regardless of how worthy the sacrifice. The world appears to be stacked against those who want to give to the future and in favor of those who want to take from the future in the name of personal wealth. So with the cost of protecting the gorge rising with every conversation with the TN Parks and Greenways, I decided it was time to sell a toy.
I had decided to part with an extremely nice Taylor guitar that I had hoped I could play but can't. The selling process was taking longer than I thought and fraught with scammers and thieves in the online market place. At some point I came around to an old Gretsch that lived in the closet. I had bought it decades ago when all the fingers on my left hand were still the correct length. After a woodworking accident in 1984 I became unable to play a narrow neck guitar. Could I part with it? I found an online Gretsch Forum and posted about it. Good people populate that world in a high ratio compared to bad people, but as one drop of oil can pollute a million gallons of fresh water, so it is with human scum. Even so, I worked around the scams and the good folks filled me with information and somehow started making offers on the Gretsch. I began several long distance conversations with a number of them. Most of them just wanted to chat, much like car enthusiasts at a car show, but a few were serious about buying the guitar, which went from being an old Gretsch to a Cadillac green 1958 Gretsch Duo Jet with significant value. Now it lives in Italy and plays live music with someone who appreciates it, and I had enough coin of the realm to cover the immediate expense of the conservation easement with a little left over.
So now I have a couple of new toys and also defrayed a part of the cost of protecting a significant portion of Whites Creek Gorge where it cuts through Walden Ridge and flows into the Tennessee Valley. I have a lot more work to do and it won't get finished in my lifetime. We have to remember that, even though there is more to do, we must take time out to sing and play music with our friends. Just as we restore old and beautiful instruments, I believe we should protect and restore this old and beautiful world so everyone who will listen and pay attention can hear its music for all time.
Take some time today and enjoy the music your planet plays for you.
Happy Earth Day!