A few weeks ago, I started reading Diary of a Young Naturalist written by 16-year-old Dara McAnulty. It was recommended to me by Alison Potts, one of our Shut Up & Yoga writers and one of those humans you meet online yet can feel deeply connected to. There is something special about books people tell you about; I always like to imagine us reading away in our little cozy corners of the planet, traveling down the same paths in the world of ideas.
This diary is filled with such beauty; words and images, colorful descriptions of the outdoors and genuine re-tellings of Dara’s experience of the world as a sensitive soul (he is autistic). I’m half-way through the book right now and he hasn’t mentioned eco-grief, but if this is an emotion you experience like so many of us, then Dara’s writings might bring you a sense of togetherness you didn’t know you needed. He is so sad and angry that in Ireland, his home country, like in many other places of the world, we keep pushing nature out to replace it with asphalt and light and noises and ‘modern life.’
Yesterday, on a sunny Sunday, P and I watched I am Greta and cried throughout the whole documentary; at night I read The Future We Choose out loud in bed to try and help us sleep after a day of difficult emotions and anxiogenic thoughts. This morning, this poem came onto my lap just like the birds that Dara writes about land on branches. Softly, unaware of their importance.
“When we began, our feet trod lightly
Bare upon the earth, we were weightless
Travellers, allowing resurgence and
Regrowth, leaving enough.
Forging through millennia, we kept on
Adding endless weight, a leadening
Heaviness, leaving deep and lasting
Indentations, sending shockwaves.
Cruelty, cavernous greed, no impediment,
Hands and feet became Industrial.
Monsters, spewing toxicity, sickening,
Deafening, echoing arrows.
Now thundering, trampling boundlessly.
Decimating pathways once bountiful.
We watch helplessly, numb and aching,
Our hollow, haunting cries in empty spaces.
Stop. I hear hope, purposely striding.
Footsteps pleading necessary action.
Great minds whirring, channelling change,
Demanding, respectfully our weight to
I want birdsong, abundant fluttering,
Humming, no more poison or destruction.
Growing for growth, it has to end.
Will my generation see the rightful
Excerpt from “Diary of a Young Naturalist,” Dara McAnulty.
If you, too, feel heavy-hearted when you think about the state of our world; angry that we aren’t doing enough… May this be the reminder that at least we aren’t alone in our grief, navigating our big emotions with our little human hearts. What would we do without words, without the quiet ones making art and poetry? I, for one, am grateful for our creative minds.