Sunday, January 3, 2010

Nerburn's Latest Book

I started, and finished, Kent Nerburn's latest book "The Wolf at Twilight" one evening last week. It is a really wonderful story and it felt good to connect with the characters from "Neither Wolf nor Dog", even if I'm more skeptical now more than ever that a great deal of the books are in fact story. That isn't to say they aren't real, I think they probably are, but not in a linear manner that they are presented in the books. One line in the book has stuck with me over the last week. Towards the end of the book, as the story is coming to and end, "Dan", a Lakota Elder and the books main character, says to Nerburn "To us, the world was a mystery to be honored, not a puzzle to be solved."
There are a number of memorable lines in the book, further evidence of Nerburn's ability to tell a great story, but this one really stuck with me. First, I agree with Dan's account of the western view the world. I think we do try to deconstruct everything in a manner that makes it just a big old puzzle that we can tinker with and maybe find out how parts of it function. As a scientist, and a researcher in particular, that in fact is what I do. Which brings me to the second reason this particular quote stuck in my mind, I do that! I try to pull the ecological realm of our underwater world apart to see how hit all fits together. I realize that it is supposed to enable us to better take care of things, but do we? Would we be better off looking at the world in holistic manner, marveling at the mysteries it contains and going along our own little merry way? Or perhaps because we're "enlightened" we've gone too far already. Perhaps we need to look at things holistically and gain an understanding of how they function, an ecological "both/and" if you will. As we try to deconstruct creation into tidbits that our tiny minds can grasp, it then behooves us to ask, prior to doing so, why are we doing this? What will be gained, what will be lost in the process? Science is a great thing, but along with the inquiry associated with it, comes a high level of responsibility as well as a level of humility. Unfortunately, the later is much to often absent in the scientific world.
But back to the book, read it. It is a marvelous story and I promise you'll learn a thing or two or 12 while you're at it.