I Am So Back: Beauty, Battles And The Metolius River

By Saturday, August 22, 2009 6 0

My transition between old and new laptops plus an uptick at work led to my taking a 12 day break from posting. So, we can say I took a summer vacation, at least from blogging. How did I spend my virtual vacation? Three strands are loopily braided in my brain like rivers are prior to human intervention: hiking on the Metolius, reading The Canon by Natalie Angier, and embracing some realities of blogging.

The Metolius River in Central Oregon is part of Scott’s home, Scott being our former housemate whose carpentry job here in Portland was an early victim of the recession. Scott, Thor and I walked along its riotously green banks, Ponderosa pine air infusing our brains and fueling our conversation. He told of a friend’s recently watching a mountain lion drink from the river — right over there- and we talked about the recent legislative battle that ended in the Metolius being closed to resort development. Scott said he and his hometown of Camp Sherman in general were glad for the decision, that the whole movement to preserve this place had started right there with the group Friends of the Metolius.

I pondered this, amongst the Ponderosas, that even in an economy some would call deathly slow, even in a state with one of the highest unemployment rates in the nation, even a small town heavily dependent on tourism would reject commercial development, would choose beauty, the integrity of a place and a way of life over what is commonly called progress.

I later emailed Richard, my carpool pal who was instrumental in winning the legislative battle, of my felicitous visit to the magical place. Magical is the right word, he wrote back. We had driven home together, just me and him that time, the day he and his committee celebrated the victory for the Metolius at DaVinci’s in downtown Salem. Richard was glowing. I was exulatant. The head of the opposition had refused to shake his hand, Richard noted as an aside.

Which brings me to the second strand of today’s braid: Natalie Angier’s book The Canon, which snaps and sparkles like a bonfire at solstice with her love of science and our shared world in general. Reading her rapier intelligence and coexistent joy, her willingness to absolutely let herself rip with words in every single sentence the way that a rock star belts a song or an opera star lets loose with an aria, has made me face something in myself:

In Diamond-Cut Life’s almost two-year history, I’ve generally dumbed it and myself down in my jonesing for hits and effort to build readership. I’ve used small words, short sentences, and generally short, frequent posts in the belief that the majority of readers need their online reading to be easy and unchallenging. I was possibly right about that last, but Ms. Angier  has reminded me that truly good writing can also find a real audience (she has lots of readers). And she obviously has a great deal of fun, fun being one of the canons of the diamond-cut life.

So here is the outcome of my vacation and braided strands of thought and experience: I’m going for the beauty, not the numbers. I want to be like the Metolius River, not the narrowly averted resort developments on its banks. I’m looking to Natalie Angier for inspiration, not to bloggers with thousands of subscribers who promote self-interested self-absorption. I’m willing to do respectful battle, like Richard is, for what I believe in, rather than just fight for popularity. Going forward, I’m writing fewer posts, probably one or two a week, that chisel down deeper than my prior posts have into the diamond ore of more joy and  less consumption.

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  • Alison Wiley
    August 28, 2009

    Deb, I’ve always liked that Frost poem. I see all of us as having many choice-points every day of our lives . . . . . with those choices adding up to making ‘all the difference’ . . . both to the earth’s sustainability, and our own happiness and integrity.

    Just to let folks know, this Comments section will be my (only) way of communicating electronically for the time being — I’m letting go of my Comcast email address. Do please keep on commenting, and I’ll respond.

  • Deb
    August 27, 2009

    two roads diverged in a wood, and I-
    I took the one less traveled by,
    And that has made all the difference.

  • Alison Wiley
    August 25, 2009

    It’s good to hear all of the above. Thanks for the support. I especially like the imagery of stalking oneself. The self can be an elusive prey.

  • allison (with 2 Ls)
    August 24, 2009

    This is a beautiful and inspiring post. I’m going to follow its lead and consciously strive to be smarter today, to stalk myself (as don Juan Matus challenged us in the Carlos Castenada texts) so I can co-create my life with intention. Thank you Alison!

  • Kate
    August 23, 2009

    No need to dumb things down or write briefly. Write however you’d like. Be yourself.

  • Crafty green poet
    August 23, 2009

    Glad to see you back! Glad you had a productive break! I think the best is to be true to yourself, find the way of writing that says what you want it to say without either dumbing down or becoming obscure for the sake of it…. I’ve never felt that your blog has been dumbed down, it’s always felt clear and well written.