I was a witness to this little interaction one day as I took a short break from a long walk on the Appalachian Trail.
A Journal Entry from September 28, 2019
The other day, I spent time in a small town in Tennessee, at a local county fair deeply surrounded by trees. This county and the counties that surround it is a land where every home is wealthy as freshwater springs bring abundance into the lives of the people who live here freely.
As I walked through the fair, I overheard some adolescent girls loudly discussing their views on environmentalism, and I unwillingly listened to their strong opinions.
One of the girls in the group took particular delight in mocking a television program about climate change in a harsh and pointed tone of voice, "Save our resources! Clean our water! Save the turtles! Don't use plastic straws! What is that shit?!?"
Instead of judging them, I wanted to find their point of view, so I jumped into their understanding of the world as they interact with it to be.
Who are these young ladies, and what is their reality of life?
Well, at 15 years old or so, I guess they rarely wander far from home.
And I had been walking over the last three weeks nearly 130-miles on the Appalachian trail which lies near their tiny city. This walk involves a seemingly endless abundant forest, and it is this very forest that defines the borders of their small town.
Mother Nature, in her wild glory, surrounds the entirety of their universe.
With this fact, I did my best to understand how the girls could imagine another way of knowing life.
Why would they relate to changes in the planet as their truth based on what they read in newspapers and watch on the news?
I could see how the abundant and vast forest surrounding them is their reality.
And then there was me, a mature, well-traveled woman, a stark contrast to the young women I found myself unwillingly eavesdropping on. My understanding of the universe is possibly more expansive, even as I am nothing but an intruder and an interloper at a small-town fair in Tennessee.
In my experience, I am blessed to spend lots of time in the Andes mountains of Peru, where the glaciers help create the notorious start of the Amazon River.
And on every trip to the Sacred Valley, I scan the mountains with concern as I witness the glaciers becoming smaller and smaller. And I listen attentively as our guide repeatedly reminisces at how just 30 short years ago, the glaciers never melted entirely over a summer period. And how now, many glaciers do.
On every trip, he would point to his favorite mountain peaks where he would matter of factly state that the glaciers had disappeared in their entirety.
And I find it interesting, the reality of a man who grew up in the Andes and is now a grandpa of three versus the quartet of girls from Tennessee who haven't reached 20 yet.