Our planet

I have lived in capital cities most of my adult life, a choice borne of necessity. But it has come at a cost. I believe there is a natural affinity between the soul and other forms of life besides humans. Over the years, the more I neglect the yearning to trade concrete for trees, the more I feel a gaping hole somewhere in my being. We must turn to the Native Americans, the transcendalist poets, and the Zen masters in Japan to understand how to nurture our soul and bring the mind and body into balance through a reverent connection to nature.

I prefer to write about my own experiences of intimacy with nature and its transformative effect on me. Whether it is watching a sunset in the desert of Wadi Rum in Jordan or a day-long hike in the Adirondacks, each encounter has something of the mystery of our own existence unveiled. There is, in the spirit of the transcendalists or poets like Pablo Neruda, ‘the sacred and ineffable’ the moment we realize how much we are a part of nature, not apart from it. It is my greatest source of inspiration, evident in much of my own poetry.

The other side of the human-earth story is extremely disparaging. While I would rather leave it to more authoritative sources to write about climate change, the melting glaciers, and the havoc wrought from the rapacious plundering of the earth, I will inevitably be compelled to raise specific issues that every global citizen should think at least once about. For me, I am most apt to lift to the light the voices of marginalized people in Ecuador or Congo whose livelihoods and resources are being eroded for the sake of consumer goods and fuel to maintain the lifestyles of wealthier countries.

As a geographer, I have always felt that the principal source of conflict on the globe to be competition over resources, man against nature, not to mention absolute greed. Ultimately, the root cause of our environmental crisis and most other systemic crises is a lack of consciousness. By restoring this, we have a chance of restoring our humanity.