THE HARSH REALITY OF OUR IMMINENT DOOM: GOOD FUCKIN’ RIDDANCE!

Walls of Ice

A couple of days ago I heard that the world’s Greenhouse Gases, of which Carbon Dioxide (CO2) is the most noxious one, have reached an all-time high. It apparently is the first time this has happened in millions of years. In fact, the last time similar levels were seen, according to the news reports, were when the Arctic was entirely ice-free, something like four billion years ago, when sea levels were 40 meters higher than today, and when the world was blanketed by seemingly infinite Savannah.

It worried me greatly to hear this, though it unfortunately also confirmed something of which I’ve been convinced for a long time: that thanks to our selfish, obsessive and institutionalized pursuit of material wealth, we are finally, as Marilyn Manson once said, “on our way down, now…”

The boob-tube rightly pointed to the rise in CO2 levels, which “picked up,” it said, “since industrialization,” as the main cause for this shameful and stupid ‘accomplishment.’ More specifically, it referred to human activity in terms of “burning gas and coal” as the main perpetrator (though not the only one: it also mentioned breathing and when plants died).

Of course, as I said, The Fear was already in me from long before hearing such calamities, though the news had renewed and invigorated it, for I had allowed it to wane in recent months, perhaps blinded by the transient pleasantness of warm, sunny days. Then yesterday, and again today, I saw more reports of natural catastrophes, though one in particular shocked me as much as hearing about our new ‘record.’

I heard about forest fires that consumed nearby neighbourhoods, though that wasn’t new and did not surprise me; it was just another dose of the real-life horror we are now living, and which is surely to blossom into full apocalyptic chaos for the generations unfortunate enough to come after us. But the thing that made my nuts and all the nerves in my body shrink with fear, was seeing a wall of ice about nine meters high, creeping in from the sea, slowly engulfing a tree that stood all by its lonesome self in the middle of a field…almost seeming petrified to move in the face of this roaring, blob of ice.

Today in the morning, I saw another report of a similar case where walls of ice had crept right up to people’s houses, destroying most of the wooden homes as the monster just continued moving ahead.

No Silver-Lining

Over the last decade, but perhaps more consciously over the last five years, I – as many others – have been noticing that our weather patterns grow more and more erratic every year; that the magnitude and type of natural disasters have both increased and varied, accordingly; and I’ve noticed that this doesn’t seem to scare many people.

I guess it makes sense that the world isn’t running around in a panic and crying about their doomed futures…Or does it? Many of the important things in life, I’ve noticed, don’t get done, or don’t get that first impetus, until catastrophe has hit, or until something very ugly has pressed for the necessity to do something. “You don’t know what you have until you’ve lost it,” has never sounded more appropriate. The only difference is that in that maxim, after you lose it, you gain a new perspective and try to do better next time. In the case of Mother Earth, however, once we lose her…We’re Shit Out of Luck.

Unfortunately, there is no upside here; there is no positive spin I can now write in here. I was thinking of how to follow that last sentence: perhaps, I thought, saying something about how it is in our hands to change it before it’s too late…But the absurdity of that statement hit me like a sack of jagged stones…There is no silver-lining anymore; there is no upside; there is nothing we can, in fact, do to save ourselves anymore. The generations that will come after us, I’m sure, will only inherit a living hell, at least until the species itself can no longer withstand the harsh and unforgiving climates…which of course wouldn’t be a bad thing…perhaps it is time for a renewal…to start from zero…and perhaps without us.

Just Let the Sun In!

When the “scare” about 2012 was still around, it almost became laughable to even suggest that the Mayans were onto something with their prediction. Of course, as with most of the important things in life, the truth of the matter (of their “predictions”) got thwarted and corrupted. In the end, much like it happens when you play “broken telephone,” the original idea had completely gotten lost in translation: the notion of Imminent and Life-Altering Change had been usurped by the stupid rumour of “doomsday.”

But to those who weren’t swept up in the hoopla of rumour, hyperbole or sensationalism, the idea that the Sun was to enter a new phase of expansion was a very real danger, since the science behind it proved that it could have dire repercussions here on Earth.

Mayan predictions have reportedly foreseen the coming of various eras of our time, including our agricultural and industrial revolutions. It wouldn’t be entirely farfetched to think that they had also calculated that the mixture of growing populations and heavier industrialization would lead to high levels of pollution that would, in effect, worsen the effects the Earth would be feeling from the Sun’s fifth phase of expansion. But that is irrelevant. What matters are the facts: that the Sun has, indeed, entered its fifth phase of expansion (confirmed by science), which, among other things, can cause massive solar flares that could reach and penetrate Earth’s very weak ozone layer, which, again, has only been weakened by the CO2 we’ve produced.

Natural disasters are, as we’ve already seen, a reality that continues to assault the world indiscriminately, even in places that traditionally would not see certain types of disasters for this or that reason (not near fault-lines, not appropriate temperatures/climates, etc). As scientists have long been stating, due to the rise in CO2 levels, oceans remain polluted for thousands of years as the CO2 does not simply leave. This changes ecosystems and causes the type of severe and erratic weather patterns I described above.

But the solar flares also have the potential to literally throw us back to the dark ages.

As it already happened in Quebec sometime in the ’80s or ’90s, solar flares, when strong enough, can interfere with our power grids, leaving entire cities without any electricity.

In today’s globalized world (and one where the Market, through places like Wall Street, reigns supreme), the lack of electricity in major cities would be infinitely catastrophic. The collapse of electricity would lead to the collapse of transportation, communications, trading, economics, etc. The entire world would be cut off from itself.

There was a documentary whose title I cannot remember now, which spoke precisely of all these things (I’ll try to find it and post it up). It went into great detail about what would happen if we are thrown in the dark for just a few hours, for a few days and for a few months. The results were globally fatal by the time we reached a few days!

Again, there is no silver-lining to any of this. I think we brought it upon ourselves.

Perhaps the only way to really save our species (not only our kids and their kids – that would be selfish), is to fully abolish our addiction to oil and, more importantly, to consumerism, which is what drives our consumption of oil in the first place. I have even had the fortune of meeting some individuals who do everything in their power to adhere to this philosophy of sustainability, and they’ve made my life that much better. But all my hopes (in regards to the survival of our species in the face of what we’ve done to Mother Nature) are now gone…

And Good Fuckin’ Riddance, too!

******

On a related note, the Canadian government is up in arms, enraged at the EU for even thinking of calling the Tar Sands “Dirty” Oil. They say there is no scientific evidence for it. They swear to start a trade-war over this.

Enough said?

THE DUSTY TRAIL, THE WITHERING JUNGLE, AND THE LONESOME YOUTH: REMEMBERING ZARATHUSTRA

dusty path…And it happened that as I was traveling on the Dusty Trail, as I weaved through the denseness of a thick, Withering Jungle that had long ago begun to decay, I noticed how much of the flora this deterioration had infected, withering once-colourful flowers into black lumps of crispy, dead petals. My heart quivered with sadness; my hands trembled with rage. I looked around desperately, hoping someone was around with whom to share my great discontent: my panic at what I was seeing in front of me, my fear of the possibility that I too may begin withering and crumbling, leaving nothing but broken pieces of a man to carry my name and breath into the auras of the future. But I saw no one; I was alone.

But I knew that I simply could not go on my own selfish way after having seen this, just leaving it to continue to rot,  hoping someone else may find it so that they may fix it. There had to be a root: there had to be an infected piece at the base, where the nutrients flowed into the soil – a reason why Color and Freedom had been taken away from these jungles, and why Darkness and Dullness had taken their place, reigning over the Living. So I veered from the dusty path on which I’d been walking and broke through a thick net of jagged branches and black lumps to my left that had once been flowers and leaves — when Freedom still reigned — but which were now void of everything…even Death.

But it happened that as I walked deeper and deeper through this swamp of branches and dead trees, I began hearing ghostly whispers and even macabre howls that sounded like tortured souls emanating from within the bowels of the jungle; at other times they sounded like vultures or demonic creatures screeching far in the horizon and swooping down on me.  But there was nothing there. At other times I’d see shrubs shaking or swaying, and I’d feel something run past me but, again, there was nothing there. Panic was taking hold….My Solitude in this place became magnified, which made my goal – to reach the root of the problem and fix it – seem ludicrous and suicidal, and my faith wavered as my knees buckled with fear in the face of the utter lonesomeness in which I found myself.

I felt like I wanted to turn back, like I should let the demons scare me…like I should let them win, for I knew they were purposefully scaring me; that they wanted me to turn back so as to let them continue to Absorb the Life of this Wonderful Jungle and to Control the Freedom of Growth and Evolution. And just then, just when I’d reached the climax of my horror, my mind had a flashback to an earlier time – to a time of formation – when I had read a tale that, until then, had only seemed like wonderful poetry lauding the soul…like beautiful words…But at that very moment, the words were actually the catalyst I needed to renew my strength and faith and to finish that Great Trek I had started…if not for myself, for the ecstasy that is seeing Life Grow…

And so it happened that I remembered a tale that had found Zarathustra walking “alone through the mountains surrounding the town which is called The Motley Cow,” where he’d suddenly found the same young man who had been avoiding him on days past, leaning against a Lonesome Tree Atop the Mountain, and “looking wearily into the valley.” Gripping the “tree under which the youth was sitting,” Thus Spoke Zarathustra:

“If I wanted to shake this tree with my hands I should not be able to do it. But the wind, which we do not see, tortures and bends it in whatever direction it pleases. It is by invisible hands that we are bent and tortured the worst…But it is with man as it is with the tree. The more he aspires to the height and light, the more strongly do his roots strive earthward, downward, into the dark, the deep – into evil…”

And with these words I began to feel anew. Then, upon realizing that I’d have to cut and maim some branches – get rid of what wouldn’t let me pass, and even sacrifice some remaining, seemingly healthy petals to avoid further infection of the blooming ones, that is, of the Future to Come – my hands became heavy with doubt. And then again I remembered Zarathustra’s wise words:IMG_20130412_111235

“Some souls one will never discover, unless one invents them first.”

My situation, I noted, was not unlike the young man who had been sitting by the tree, who’d wavered after having climbed so high that he found himself entirely unaccompanied, even spiteful of himself and confused at his choice to Fly so High and so utterly alone; after having received the full brunt of those he’d left Under – with the Herd – and who now casted aspersions at him for having dared questioned and shaken their complacent and dormant acquiescence. There, isolated, bedevilled and mentally exhausted, he Thus Spoke to Zarathustra:

“I no longer trust myself since I aspire to the height, and nobody trusts me any more; how did this happen? I change too fast: my today refutes my yesterday. I often skip steps when I climb: no step forgives me that. When I am at the top I always find myself alone. Nobody speaks to me; the frost of loneliness makes me shiver. What do I want up high? My contempt and my longing grow at the same time; the higher I climb, the more I despise the climber. What does he want up high? How ashamed I am of my climbing and stumbling! How I mock at my violent panting! How I hate the flier! How weary I am up high!”

Calmly, Zarathustra responds thus:

“This tree stands lonely here in the mountains; it grew high above man and beast. And if it wanted to speak it would have nobody who could understand it, so high has it grown. Now it waits and waits – for what is it waiting? It dwells too near the seat of the clouds: surely, it waits for the first lighting.”

Unhinged by the magnificent revelation, and as he “wept bitterly,” the Youth, in turn, responds thus:

“Yes, Zarathustra! You are speaking the truth. I longed to go under when I aspired to the height, and you are the lightning for which I waited. Behold, what am I, now that you have appeared among us? It is the envy of you that has destroyed me.”

Putting “his arm around him” and leading him away, Zarathustra says to the Youth:

“It tears my heart. Better than your words tell it, your eyes tell me of all your dangers. You are not yet free, you will search for freedom. You are worn from your search and over-awake. You aspire to the free heights, your soul thirsts for the stars. But your wicked instincts, too, thirst for freedom. Your wild dogs want freedom; they bark with joy in their cellar when your spirit plans to open all prisons. To me you are still a prisoner who is plotting his freedom: alas, in such prisoners the soul becomes clever, but also deceitful and bad. And even the liberated spirit must still purify himself. Much prison mountain tree lightning 2and mustiness still remain in him: his eyes must still become pure.

“Indeed I know your danger,” he continued. “But by my love and hope I beseech you: do not throw away your love and hope!

“You still feel noble, and the others too feel your nobility, though they bear you a grudge and send you evil glances. Know that the noble stands in everybody’s way. The noble man stands in the way of the good too: and even if they call him one of the good, they thus want to do away with him. The noble man wants to create something new and a new virtue. The good want the old, and that the old be preserved. But this is not the danger of the noble man, that he might become one of the good, but a churl, a mocker, a destroyer.”

I was more calm. The shrubbery felt less jagged.

And Zarathustra’s words continued reciting themselves in my head, as if being whispered by a tiny being in my mind reading straight from the book:

“Alas, I knew noble men who lost their highest hope. Then they slandered all high hopes. Then they lived impudently in brief pleasures and barely cast their goals beyond the day. Spirit too is lust, so they said. Then the wings of their spirit broke: And now their spirit crawls about and soils what it gnaws. Once they thought of becoming heroes: now they are voluptuaries. The hero is for them an offense and a fright.

“But by my love and hope, I beseech you,” Zarathustra had said. “Do not throw away the hero in your soul! Hold holy your highest hope!”

And the voice intonating Zarathustra’s speech went on inside my muddled brain:

“‘He who seeks, easily gets lost. All loneliness is guilt’ – thus speaks the herd. And you have long belonged to the herd. The voice of the herd will still be audible in you. And when you will say, “I no longer have a common conscience with you,” it will be a lament and an agony. Behold, this agony itself was born of the common conscience, and the last glimmer of that conscience still glows on you affliction.

“But do you want to go the way of your affliction, which is the way to yourself? Then show me your right and your strength to do so. Are you a new strength and a new right? A first movement? A self-propelled wheel? Can you compel the very stars to revolve around you?

“Alas, there is so much lusting for the heights! There are so many convulsions of the ambitions. Show me that you are not one of the lustful and ambitious.

“Alas, there are so many great thoughts which do no more than a bellows: they puff up and make emptier.

You call yourself free? Your dominant thought I want to hear, and not that you have escaped from a yoke. Are you one of those who had the right to escape from a yoke? There are some who threw away their last value when they threw away their servitude.

Free from what? As if that mattered to Zarathustra! But your eyes should tell me brightly: free for what?

IMG_20130406_094039The words lingered in my mind. The sharp audible contrast between the from and the for sounds were impactful, much more than a simply auditory curiosity…They meant a lot more…The Jungle in front of me began taking a new look, a new air about it – there seemed to be a new aura emanating from and palpitating in the centre, where all the jungle’s energy seemed to concentrate, and where I figured the poison would have to be bled….Tribal Drumming was filling the background, and my heart itself seemed to be navigating towards the Centre…The palpitations, I then realized, were coming from within me….And then the voice intonating Zarathustra’s song came back:

Can you give yourself your own evil and your own good and hang your own will over yourself as a law? Terrible it is to be alone with the judge and the avenger of one’s own law. Thus is a star thrown out into the void and into the icy breath of solitude. Today you are still suffering from the many, being one: today your courage and your hopes are still whole. But the time will come when solitude will make you weary, when your pride will double up, and your courage gnash its teeth. And you will cry, ‘I am alone!’ The time will come when that which seems high to you will no longer be in sight, and that which seems low will be all too near; even what seems sublime to you will frighten you like a ghost. And you will cry, ‘All is false!’

The words, again, were palpably true! My enthusiasm at giving a helping hand in the reconstruction of this Exotic Jungle had wavered; I had seen the black petals, and my skin had torn after getting caught on the jagged branches, and the sight of my own blood had made me think of turning back – of abandoning all hope and fight and sacrifice, and just run for the dusty path which, though still lonely, was decorated with artificial trees and plants that gave the impression of life…I had wavered…But the invoked words worked to placate my fear again and invigorate me with courage:

“There are feelings which want to kill the lonely; and if they do not succeed, well, then they themselves must die,” Zarathustra had said. And then he’d asked: “But are you capable of this – to be a murderer?” And I was now asking myself the same question:

I swallowed the thought with ambivalence, and my brain continued to recite Zarathustra:

“My brother, do you know the word ‘contempt’ yet? And the agony of your justice – being just to those who despise you? You force many to relearn about you; they charge it bitterly against you. You came close to them and yet passed by: that they will never forgive. You pass over and beyond them: but the higher you ascend, the smaller you appear to the eye of envy. But most of all they hate those who fly….”

Yes! I was beginning to realize that perhaps I was ready…And plus, by God! I had gotten my wings!

“‘How would you be just to me?’ you must say,” continued Zarathustra. “‘I choose your injustice as my proper lot.’ Injustice and filth they throw after the lonely one: but, my brother, if you would be a star, you must not shine less for them because of that.

“And beware of the good and the just!” I immediately remembered he’d warned against that very cautiously. “They like to crucify those who invent their own virtue for themselvesthey hate the lonely one. Beware also of holy simplicity! Everything that is not simple it considers unholy; it also likes to play with fire – the stake. And beware also of the attacks of your love! The lonely one offers his hand too quickly to whomever he encounters. To some people you may not give your hand, only a paw; and I desire that your paw should also have claws.

“But the worst enemy you can encounter will always be you, yourself; you lie in wait for yourself in caves and woods.” Under the circumstances – in the midst I was in – the reality of those words resonated within me, and made me feel enlarged.

“Lonely one, you are going the way to yourself. And your way leads past yourself and your seven devils. You will be a heretic to yourself and a witch and soothsayer and fool and doubter and unholy one and a villain. You must wish to consume yourself in your own flame: how could you wish to become new unless you had first become ashes!

“Lonely one, you are going the way of the creator: you will create a god for yourself out of your seven devils…”

My heart was beating faster…

Lonely one, you are going the way of the lover: yourself you love, and therefore you despise yourself, as only lovers despise. The lover would create because he despises. What does he know of love who did not have to despise precisely what he loved!”

I was trembling faster and harder, realizing the events that were going to take place; realizing what my brain, guided by the great feelings of love the speech had reminded me of, was now telling me I should do if we were to arrive at the Centre, which now was an arm’s length away…With tears in my eyes, and with a sublime understanding of the reasons for the very violent acts which my arms were executing, a machete came down with all the force of a thousand horses and chopped the rotten though still living branches, flowers and shrubs that blocked the Centre. My heart was heavy with sadness, feeling myself a destroyer of life….but my mind was fixed on the prize: on that vortex from which life flowed outward, and which, until now, had been saturated by venomous weeds masqueraded as unhealthy roses. And Zarathustra’s words came rushing back:

“Go into your loneliness with your love and with your creation, my brother; and only much later will justice limp after you.

“With my tears go into your loneliness, my brother. I love him who wants to create over and beyond himself and thus perishes.”

And Thus Spoke Zarathustra.

thick jungle 2And as I reached the Center, though alone, I felt accompanied by the spirit of the Jungle, which, upon feeling my first efforts of Liberating it, seemed to dance and rejoice with the enthusiasm of someone who’s been given their sight back, or whose suffocating muzzle has finally been removed. And with every breath that I inhaled and exhaled, the Jungle seemed to swell as it breathed with me, and we became one…

…And so it happened, that the Jungle regained its colour, and I my strength.

UN CUENTO DE VERDAD, FICCION Y CRIMEN

La bestia peluda y blanca, caminaba por el bosque delante de mí; pues de vez en cuando me asaltaban ganas de detenerme para apreciar el paisaje. El frío ciertamente se dejaba sentir con toda su saña, aunque todavía no había logrado congelar los arroyos, cuyas aguas cristalinas centelleaban mientras fluían debajo de finas capas de hielo, rugiendo quedamente, como un pequeño animal que duerme. El resto del bosque, que durante el verano alberga estos arroyos con flora gruesa y lustrosa, ahora, en el invierno, tenía un aire surrealista, casi como un cuento de adas, con velas de hielo extendiendose desde las puntas de los árboles desnudos y cubiertos solo con una cobija de nieve que brillaba como el agua; el terreno un tanto montañoso, daba al viaje un aire aventurero, al tener que caminar, escalar y hasta gatear a ratos, bajo el sol, cuyos rayos penetraban intermitentemente por entre las ramas de los eucaliptos, los arboles más altos en el bosque. El viaje tenía un aire encantador, pero en las noches y bajo un frío glacial, la oscuridad entre los árboles era macabra; parecía escucharse susurros al acecho, emanando de la nada. Por ahora nos hallábamos a salvo; arrullados por un concierto orquestado exclusivamente para nosotros – una mezcla de sonidos provenientes de la naturaleza, que aún podían penetrar el invernal frío amargo y confundirse con el rumor de las aguas, en el aullido ronco del aire y en el resto de los ruidos que sutilmente se escondían en el fondo. De todos modos, no había mucho tiempo para quedarse quieto puesto que la bestia blanca era joven, vigorosa e impaciente… asi que debíamos continuar. Ademas,permanecer estático en un lugar, era como recordar a los huesos lo frío de aquel paraje, a pesar de lo hermoso del paisaje.               

Cuando finalmente llegamos al confín del bosque, donde mi compañero sabía que estableceríamos campamento, el sol comenzaba a desaparecer lentamente detras de los arboles en la punta occidental, iluminando el cielo encima de ellos con llama entre violeta y anaranjada, lo cual me hizo tener la impresion de que estábamos siendo quemados vivos. Mi peludo companero, lleno de energia y completamente equipado para no solo soportar el frío, sino más bien para prosperar en él, corría frenéticamente en circulos, aullando y ladrando muy exaltado en un ataque aparentemente descontrolado. Cuando hube terminado de installar el campamento, comenzamos a jugar juntos, como dos hermanos – despreocupadamente, libre de azares y aprehensiones, llenos de mutua confianza-. Pero a medida que se acercaba la noche con oscuridad que como gigantesca boca devoraba todo a su paso, nos acurrucamos en nuestro nido cerca de la fogata, y preparamos nuestros ánimos en espera de todas las maravillas y terrores que sobrevienen con la noche, y más ahora, tratándose de estar bajo un cielo abierto e implacable. El frío estaba asombrosamente dominado, por lo que se nos hizo menos duro arrostrar la inclemencia de la noche sin haber tenido que sentir nuestros huesos su incompasivo efecto. Creo que habré dormido, o tal vez simplemente me perdí en la quietud de la noche, porque cuando me di cuenta, observé que mi compañero se había ido. Me levanté en seguida y comencé a llamarlo, pero no tuve respuesta alguna, asi que me encaminé hacia la densa oscuridad enfrente de mí, donde sabía que solo había árboles y alimañas de la noche.

Al acercarme a la oscuridad, lejos ya de mi fogata, comencé a oir el crujir de las ramas al quebrarse y un gruñido que en seguida supe que era el de mi compañero. Cuando finalmente me aproximé lo suficiente para distinguir la silueta enfrente de mi, asiéndome de la piel blanca de mi compañero, pude notar  que jalaba algo que sostenía en su boca, y cuyo otro extremo estaba firmemente ligado a algo que aún no alcanzaba a distinguir. Llamé a la bestia, pero no hizo ningún caso; simplemente continuó jalando a su víctima y gruñendo. Acercándome aún más, y con el auxilio de la tenue luz de la luna, pude ver que solo se trataba de la rama de un árbol, y sintiendo alivio de que no se haya tratado de alguna víctima viviente, suspiré profundamente y descancé contra el grueso tronco de un árbol, todavia viendo la escena enfrente de mí. Y eso fue todo… A continuación, solo observé a la bestia jalar la rama hasta que finalmente se quebró, produciendo un sonido como “THWACK”, tan fuerte como el sonnido de un balazo resonando en la espesura del bosque hueco. De repente, una siniestra sensación se apoderó de mí en torno de toda la escena: fue algo semejante a la impresión de haber disfrutado de la acción de la bestia arrancando la rama sin razón alguna, por lo que me sentí rodeado de gran perturbación.

Cuando todo hubo terminado, una costra verde cubria lo que quedaba del brazo del pobre arbol, y la bestia simplemente se retiró bailando felizmente con su rama en la boca hacia nuestro campamento. Permanecí mudo enfrente de todo esto dado que tuve la impresión de que había presensiado un macabro crimen del cual hasta había disfrutado, y que había hecho absolutamente nada para detener al perpetrador o para socorrer a la víctima de quien apenas comencé a advertir había sido enteramente indefenso. Me acerqué al pobre arbol destrozado; casi avergonzado de estar en su precensia, para finalmente poner mi mano sobre su miembro herido y cercenado. Fue entonces que comencé a sentirme infundido por algo extraño; a sentir algo dentro de mí….emoción, acaso…si, eso es lo que sentí….comencé a experimentar una emoción que me ligaba a esta victima, y le susurré: “Lo siento…” No sé porque, pero me pareció como que miraba fijamente a los ojos llorosos y suplicantes de alguien que había caído victima de un tirano; me sentí responsable de no haber estorbado la mano de ese tirano cuando vi su acción y cuando tube la oportunidad de acerlo…

Fue entonces cuando me di cuenta de que todos esos temores de la noche a los que me había aferrado hace poco, y que las imagenes de algo horrible que vive escondido en ella, al acecho para arrebatar mi alma o mi mente, nunca se harían realidad. No por ser imposible, puesto que la mente es algo muy poderoso y que tiene la virtud de encontrar el horror que se proponga , sino más bien porque lo único que de veras se esconde alli, en la noche, en los más profundos bosques, junglas,  parques y patios son solo Arboles: Guardianes de nuestra más preciada y urgente necesidad – el oxigeno – y autores de nuestros sueños más codiciados – la belleza pura.

******

La proxima noche, durante el regreso, entre un frío que carcomía los huesos, la excursión repentinamente se revistió de un aire más vivaz…más holístico….más serio…más solemne…y la noche, solitaria y silente, ya no parecía tenebrosa, si no más bien compasiva y tierna, como un regazo acogedor y tranquilo, invitandote a dormir. Pero lo que realmente se sintió diferente, fue la manera en que estas criaturas gigantescas y benevolentes, quienes nunca se atreven a causar daño y quienes nunca dicen una sola palabra, ahora parecían velar nuestro camino, pintando en nuestro frente un dulce retrato de una magia y una realidad que van mucho mas allá de los limites de nuestra comprension.

A Tale of Truth, Fiction and Crime

WINTER FORESTThe white, furry beast trudged through the forest, ahead of myself, who from time to time stopped to take in the icy scenery. The cold was bitter, to be sure, but it had not fully frozen the streams and ravines, so that their crystalline water sparkled as it flowed beneath imperceptible layers of ice, roaring gently, like a small sleeping animal. The rest of the forest, which in summer-time engulfed these sparkling waters with thick and lustrous flora, seemed to have a surreal, almost fairy-tale-like look to it in the winter, with icicles stretching from the tip of naked tree branches covered only by a white blanket of snow that sparkled as radiantly as the water; the slightly mountainous terrain gave the entire trip the air of a quest, as we trudged and climbed and even crawled at times; in the sun-light, which peered intermittently through the opened branches of the tallest eucalyptus trees, the entire thing felt enchanted behind an azure hue, though at night and against the bitter cold, the darkness behind the trees felt macabre, and you could almost hear whispers emanating from within the nothingness that seemed to lurk in there. But at this time we were safe, and practically felt serenaded by a concert only orchestrated for our quest – a mixture of nature sounds that seemed to still break through the bitter and lonesome winter cold in the humming of the waters, the guttural hollowing of the air and the rest of the subtle background full of hidden chitters and snapping twigs. But there was not much time to stay still, for my furry companion was still young and impatient, and he demanded that we carry on. Plus, remaining for too long in the same spot was an easy reminder to the bones of how cold it was outside, despite the breath-taking scenery.

However, despite moving quite quickly, by the time we arrived at the peak of the forest, where the little furry beast knew we’d set up camp, the sun was already slowly disappearing behind the trees at the western end, illuminating the sky above them a fiery purple and orange colour, which made it feel as if we were being set on fire. My wolf-like companion, full of energy and completely equipped to not only stand the winter cold but, indeed, to thrive in it, ran around frantically, barking and howling in a seemingly uncontrolled but elated fit. When I finished setting up camp, we played together, fighting as most brothers do – without a care in the world and full of confidence in the other. But as the night began to approach faster and faster, with darkness beginning to engulf everything like a gigantic devouring maw, we settled into our nest near the fire, and braced ourselves for the wonders and terrors that come with the night, especially under the open, vast and unforgiving winter sky. The cold was surprisingly tamed, so it was easier to stare into the nothingness without feeling assaulted at the joints. After a while, I realized I must have dozed off, or perhaps just lost myself in the night, because I suddenly became aware that the little furry beast had run off. I got up and began calling for him immediately but heard no response, so I started walking towards the thick blackness in front of me, where I was sure only trees and night critters lurked.

Nevertheless, as I approached the darkness, away from my camp-fire, I began hearing twigs snapping and a low growling that I recognized as that of my own furry friend. When I finally got near enough to make out a slight silhouette in front of me, with the aid of the beast’s white fur, I realized he was tugging at something that he held in his mouth, but which was attached firmly at the other end to something which I could not make out. I called out to the beast but he refused to come; he simply continued tugging and growling. When I got a little closer, and aiding myself with the scant moon-light that was sheepishly peering through, I realized it was only a tree branch. Relieved that it wasn’t anything or anyone else, I let out a deep sigh and rested my back against the nearest tree, still able to witness the scene. And that was it…The only thing that happened after that was that I watched the beast tug at the branch and pull it backwards until it snapped, making such a loud “THWACK” sound that it resonated through the hollow forest like a gunshot. I felt there was something sinister about that entire scene; that I was enjoying seeing the beast tear at that poor branch for no reason at all, and that I felt somewhat disturbed at that fact. NIGHT TREE

When it was all finished, a green scab covered what was now the stub of the branch, and the beast simply ran off with the rest of it in his mouth, happily prancing back to our camp-site. I was speechless, for I felt as if I had witnessed a crime, almost enjoyed it, and had done absolutely nothing to stop the perpetrator or even help the poor victim who, I immediately began to realize, had been utterly defenceless. I approached the mangled tree slowly, almost embarrassed to be in its presence and finally placed my hand on its wounded and severed limb. I began to feel infused with something; to feel something inside of me…Emotion…Yes, that’s what it was…I began to feel emotion for this victim, and I whispered, “I’m sorry…” I don’t know why. But I felt as if I were starring into the watery eyes of a bullied victim after the fact; as if I were responsible for not having stopped the tyrant when I saw what he was doing and had the chance to do so…

******

I realized then that all those fears of the night which I had held onto not long before, and the images of something horrendous lurking in there, waiting to snatch my soul or my mind away, were indeed unfounded. And not because they are impossible things, for the mind is powerful and can find any horror where it faithfully seeks to find one; but because what really lurks in the night in the deepest and thickest forests and jungles and parks and backyards are only Trees: Guardians of our most precious need – oxygen – and authors of our most coveted dreams – pure and awing beauty.

As we walked back the following night, now against a slightly harsher cold, the trek suddenly felt more alive…more holistic…more serious…more solemn. And the engulfing night no longer seemed tenebrous but rather tender, like a cozy and quiet womb inviting you to rest. However, what really felt different was the way these benevolent giant creatures, who’d never dare cause harm and who never speak a word, seemed to be watching over us, painting a picture of enchantment and reality far beyond the confines of our understanding.

THE CARBON FARMER (Arbitrage Magazine article)

ORIGINAL ARTICLE: http://www.arbitragemagazine.com/topics/carbon-farmer012/2/

How many times has your future stared at you outside an elevator door? Well, it happened to Brad and Rebecca Rabiey, who met outside an elevator at the University of Alberta some 10 years ago as they went to check their grades for a criminology class. She was arriving; he was just about to leave.

“It was one of the best examples of serendipity,” says Rebecca. “We just kind of small-talked and it just went on from there.”

It’s a cute story, that’s for sure; but this isn’t a love story … at least not all of it. Today, Brad and Rebecca are so much more than just another couple with a cute story—they are the founders and leading forces behind The Carbon Farmer, one of the newest businesses to have entered and slayed their way through the CBC’s theDragons’ Den earlier this year.

“It was the right time to really grow the business,” said Brad of the whole Dragon experience, who is only 29 years old, same as Rebecca. “And it was a great way to do that both from a publicity standpoint, as well as from an investment and strategic perspective.”

Like many other Canadians, this whimsical couple from Northern Alberta became big fans of the show, but they took it a step further, seeing the opportunity there was for eco-friendly businesses to really take off. They grew their business till the right point—taking in “as much experience and expertise as you can have in [the] industry,” said Rebecca, before finally attending the show earlier in 2012, after mock-rounds staged within their community. The couple went in front of the five Dragons intent on slaying the beasts. And indeed they did.

Bruce Croxon and Arlene Dickinson both were immediately engaged by the product, and they even got down and nasty in a tree-planting demonstration. At the end of battle, the couple ended up receiving $40,000 for 40 percent of their business.

TREES AND CARBON CREDITS

The Carbon Farmer benefits its clients, which includes virtually anyone and any company, in two different ways.

“One is through our Create Your Forest Website,” says Brad, “which enables people to have a tree planted and cared for in their behalf to restore habitat in the Boreal region or other areas of Canada.” Their pilot project back in 2007 resulted in 3,000 species planted personally by Rebecca and Brad in a matter of two days.

“We were total newbies at it,” says Rebecca, unable to contain her laughter. “We did so much research including watching Youtube foresting clips of how you actually plant a tree and talked to nurseries and things like that.” By the end of this summer, they gained some major clients who are requesting 120,000 trees planted for the fall. “But there’s no way Brad and I could do that on our own. So we have acquired crews that help us do that and now we have sort of become project managers.”

This aspect of their business focuses on the importance of bringing back a beautifully unique but vital habitat in the Canadian landscape, which has been affected by conventional farming practices and industrial development over the years.

Braid explained that their efforts were aimed at “restoring the places for wildlife to live and to grow healthy, and do things like filter the water,” praising the “purifying effects which forests are so good at doing in a natural way.” People have the option of buying a personalized tree for $1.99 each, and they can visit that tree in the virtual forest through The Carbon Farmer website. They are also continuing to grow food-crops on the best of their family’s land-base (an effort dubbed the Grain Perspective), which is born out of the realization that not all land should only be filled with trees. “We realize that we need food production,” he said. So the “rest of the land in our family farm is being transitioned to organic grain production.”

The second benefit offered by The Carbon Farmer is found in the carbon that those trees offset.

“We work with individual businesses and special events to ensure that they can offset their carbon footprint from things like driving or flying or heating their homes and offices,” Brad said. “Some businesses are regulated by the government to reduce their footprint or offset the remainder. And then there are people that just do it for corporate social responsibility.”

“It’s actually been really reaffirming,” said Rebecca, speaking about the surging pattern among Canadians (individuals and companies) eager to contribute to their vision. “There are a lot of people out there that are ecologically minded. And there’s also the small business uptake that we’ve had since being on the Den.”

Brad agreed, happily pointing out that many companies are also doing it voluntarily. “Our client-base at this point is made up of people who aren’t being told by the government to do it, but just because it’s the right thing to do. It’s definitely been a sign of how progressive Canadians are.”

This part of the business works by taking advantage of the carbon credits created by the trees planted. “We plant trees, which create habitat,” says Brad. “And in comparison to the life cycle of tilling the land, we are creating carbon storage as well, which we can sell as carbon credits.”

THE FAMILY AND THE FARM

The first land the couple began to work on was the third generation family farm Brad had tilled. “I think I probably dragged Rebecca in a little bit, being as how it was mainly a family farm,” Brad chuckled. “We also had land that probably should have never been cleared right along the river and wetlands, and maybe some poorer quality land as well. So we kind of looked at solutions to problems that we were facing on the farm so as to ensure that it stays in the family for future generations.”

Since then, their project has gotten bigger, featuring such major clients like Edmonton’s Wheaton Honda (formerly Millwoods Honda) who at one point came out to plant trees themselves. The couple has moved on to working with “landowners, conservation groups, land trusts, and municipalities that hold land that they acquire to protect but don’t necessarily have the resources to restore in terms of their former grandeur or ecosystem.”

Perhaps the most remarkable thing about the business is its very own profit model. “We came at this from the triple bottom line of People, Planet, and Profit,” Rebecca explained. “Brad with his sciencebackground and me with my social background, has allowed the business to be very holistic because we are not just considering the dollars and cents but the wild-life behind it; the environmental impact behind it; as well as the community and people that are impacted.” Rebecca is a social worker by profession, and says that “these things … are of value in our business.”

And indeed they are. In the past, Brad told me, they’ve done “various things in terms of educational outreach events.” Right now they are donating $2551 out of their Community Fund, which receives a dollar of every carbon credit (tonne) they sell, to anyone that has a community project that will reduce their carbon footprint.

The Carbon Farmer certainly seems like it’s on its way to success. But the road hasn’t been all smooth, particularly because they’ve rattled the cages of conventional farming and introduced a revolutionary shift.

Rebecca explained one of the hurdles. “[Brad’s] dad had spent his early days helping his dad clear the land. So to have us begging him to plant it all back in the very field that he cleared has been, as you can imagine, a huge paradigm shift for all of us. It’s now at a point where we have much more understanding and work together. But at the beginning, it was really hard to get the full support and understanding from Brad’s dad that this is indeed a business and a concept that can go somewhere.”

“I think with my dad, at the end of the day, it was the belief in what we’re doing,” Brad added. “And we saw that from the Dragons and from most of the people that we’ve talked to—that they see a genuine care for the land and the environment and a genuine belief in what we’re doing. And I think that definitely engages.” Not farming conventionally also means that there won’t be any use of pesticides or herbicides, allowing them to be certified organic.

Currently, The Carbon Farmer is selling internationally, with clients in the US, the UK, Australia, and elsewhere. By 2013, they hope to have projects in four different provinces in Canada, ultimately aiming, down the road, to have boots on the ground in Africa and Australia.

If everything goes right, and there is no reason why it shouldn’t, this couple will grow together, waking up side by side in the glory of a third generation family farm, doing what they love. “As long as that spark remains,” said Brad, “I hope we keep planting till we’re old and gray for sure.”

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