I was at a gathering of the Bear Yuba Land Trust recently, listening to Joe Byrne and Marty Coleman talk about the thousands and thousands of acres of land they were putting into conservation in perpetuity and suddenly it was as if I was hearing those words for the first time. In perpetuity. I looked around that room in the Northstar House, packed with people all gathered together there sharing a love for the land and I thought how amazing it was that we should all be there talking about projects that could go on forever, and what a different mind-set this was from how we usually live our lives and plan our projects. It seems in this fast-paced culture of ours we attempt to plan such a short way into the future, it is a rare business plan that dares imagine even beyond the end-of-year profit-and-loss statement.
Maybe this is an outgrowth of the Boomers being raised under the dark cloud of nuclear annihilation, but it seems as if we have a hard time envisioning a future for ourselves, let alone our children and our children’s children. We’ve drifted a long way from the Iroquois concept of planning ahead seven generations and considering the impacts of our actions on those yet unborn. And how different would our decisions about the environment, climate change, sustainability be if we cared as much about the interests of that distant seventh generation as we do our corporate bottom lines and annual profits.
And so, standing there with all those enthusiastic, forward-looking, like-minded people, I suddenly realized what a transcendent conversation we were having, there, daring to talk about conservation in perpetuity, and how participating in that conversation was enriching my life, was making my life immeasurably deeper and giving it meaning. This land, this planet, our mother, is forever. It was here before, and it will remain long, long after, we are gone. I suddenly realized what an honor it was to share in planning and working on projects with impacts that are so much larger, and long-lasting, than our short, ephemeral, fleeting lives which rush past before we even begin to apprehend them. Making plans for the conservation of land enables me to reach out, beyond myself, and feel that I am touching something that is eternal. And I am so much the richer for it.