I have spent my entire professional career as a Future Generator on a mission. That mission has been to make students aware of the impacts that human beings are having on the natural world. I have been struggling for 15 years now to get the most egocentric creatures on the planet to acknowledge and care about a world that is not only outside of themselves, but also almost wholly uninterested in their Facebook status. In short, my career has been an exercise in frustration and disappointment.
I have lost most of my hair and my eyesight has gotten even worse while staring for years at poorly written sentence fragments under the flickering glare of fluorescent lighting. I am so trained to eat in the time allotted before students come to class that Mrs. RW and I consider a dinner date that lasts an hour an extravagance. Back in the day prophets of doom used to wander the wilderness starving and penniless, shouting their message at people until they were given a loaf of bread to go away. Those were the good old days! All that fresh air and sunshine! And not once were they forced to sit behind a desk!
Anyway, suffice it to say that I needed a pick-me-up. I needed to reconnect with people who think as I do and believe that our natural world is critically important and that ordinary people are powerful and passionate enough to preserve it. So when I heard that the Sierra Club was organizing a local group I leapt (carefully, don’t want to break a hip) on Ted and showed up early. I almost put on a name tag, but at the last-minute I took hold of myself and took a seat in the back.
I will admit that as the room started to fill, I got a bit excited; surely these were my people! I overheard not one but two(!) conversations abusing our current state government for the colossal mess they have made of environmental policy in such a short time! The meeting got started and quite a bit of it was involved with the necessary background information of the Sierra Club and what we would be expected to do, etc. After all that, it was time to find out what brought folks to the meeting.
To be sure, with one or two exceptions I was the youngest person there by a decade, but most of the people were erudite and witty. Then we got to the other half of the room:
“I just really love animals and think that they are so beautiful and we should protect them.” (Thanks, Lenny.)
“You know, it’s just really terrible that people don’t care about wild things anymore, like seagulls.” (Those poor birds… they’re practically extinct!)
“My wife made me come.” (I have no words. Really.)
I guess I knew that any meeting associated in any way with the outdoors would draw the Nature Winkies, but it was still amusing. I found it particularly funny to see elderly Nature Winkies, though I’m not entirely sure why.
As I pedaled Ted home, I realized that spending some time with like-minded and earnest people might be just the thing to keep me going. I even started to muse that perhaps even Nature Winkies had their place, but I think that might just have been too much patchouli in too small a room.