My life has taken on a new meaning since volunteering at the national wildlife refuges. A new mission that is more productive, rewarding and self-satisfying. I'm broke, homeless, and I love it.
For the past six years, our current global trends have depressed me. The rapid loss of natural diversity and the spiraling decline in connections between humans and their environment, the lack of compassion between people themselves and with other creatures, a prevailing disconnect and abuse of power by public officials and policies. The growing corporatization of higher education and science while sacrificing quality teaching and research was the final clincher.
I fled from the Empire. I left academia to fight at the grassroots level.To lend a voice to those creatures whose plights are disregarded by humans. And to help people become aware and more appreciative of the intrinsic and moral values in their environments. My mission is to help people better understand their environment and to establish meaningful connections with nature.
My life is very now different from the last several decades. In some sense, it is reminiscent of my years in Maine when connections with the land and wildlife were the strongest. Shedding most of the personal burdens that anchored me like a chain the past ten years has simplified and lightened my life. The sacrifice of personal possessions and commitments for a nomadic and simpler lifestyle suits me well. Indeed, I haven't been this happy in almost 10 years.
Now I travel around the country to live and work at the national and state refuges. I share my interests and knowledge of natural and cultural history with visitors. I also help the ecologists and biologists with my varied skills in the life sciences. My reward is spending time with the wildlife and visiting natural areas, and sharing many wonders of natural science with visitors.
opportunities to experience not only a large diversity of wildlife, but
also meet a wide diverse sampling of our own species. What
amazes me is the people that come to the refuges from all over the
world. I've met people from Canada, Argentina, Switzerland, Netherlands,
Israel, England, Scotland, South Africa, Italy, Australia, and France.
Additionally, people from my past have resurfaced in many places, such as a woman from my hometown 44 years ago and a former colleague from 17 years ago. I have also had the opportunity to reconnect with old friends and spend time with family members.
The most precious experiences are those gained from immersing myself in the surrounding wild nature of life. I had an eye-to-eye encounter with a juvenile bald eagle twelve feet from
me, chats with ravens, songbirds sit on my shoulder, frequent sightings of a local cougar, delight at the play of an otter family, and watching behavior of many birds as they live out their lives. What they share with me, I try to share with others.
Opportunities to spend time in fantastic wild areas frequently fills my free time. Camping for days on Steens Mountain in eastern Oregon, hiking miles in the painted deserts of Oregon and Arizona, spending two nights at the base of towering cliff and alkaline lake with no humans within miles, and smelling the musky scent at my feet of bighorn sheep was I stood on a rim gazing thousands of feet below. I gladly trade the conveniences of cafes and supermarkets for these experiences.
The world is fantastic, marvelous and beautiful out there. I am glad to break out of the small, trivial and many times petty world that was chocking and suffocating me.
This is my new life as a nomad. And this is my new retirement 'career': to help foster and nurture connections between people and wildlife, to rejuvenate compassion. My optimism is encouraged by the dedication and commitment of those people working in wildlife services, especially with dwindling budgets. I am glad to
see the growing number of academic and field ecologists and biologists finally speak out in kind. I hope this is a growing strength. We need more on the side of nature.
And for me, e non ho amato mai tanto la vita.