The legacy that we leave, or don’t leave

Published 9:22 am Wednesday, June 3, 2020

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By Betsy Burdett

Conservation Corner


Sometimes I have a hard time deciding what to write for a conservation corner, and this month is no different. Being at home so much, with so little intermixing with others, has put me in a bit of a funk. Taking long walks in the woods has preserved my sanity [somewhat], but 10 straight days of rain has pushed the limit.

Yesterday I went to a small Qigong class; I’m just learning, and there’s a lot to learn. Since the practice of Qigong has survived for thousands of years, I figure that it holds something worth learning. What I’m beginning to realize is that the practice of Qigong helps us meld our mind and body together, and thus be able to actually feel and understand positive energy flows in our body. This is so important for those of us who have grown up in a culture that values our minds over just about everything else. It’s with the mind that we control what happens in our lives, or so with think. Yet, without our body there is no mind. And without a heart, there is no reason to live.

One thing that was said in class last week is that we must allow our bodies to relax so that we can feel what’s going on inside our bodies as well as outside. I’ll take that one step further and say that we must allow ourselves to relax – give up control – so that we can hear and feel not only what’s going on in our bodies, but also feel and hear the world around us. Maybe the corona virus is pushing us in that direction.

So, being quiet and ‘at home’ for this long a period has made me question the value of things that I do and have done for most of my lifetime.

I’m a weaver, and a woodcarver and a baker. I can make all sorts of things, and I give my homemade treasures away to people as an expression of my love. The recipients really appreciate the gifts, because they are given with love. But, do those gifts even matter?

My mother could make absolutely nothing with her hands (she wasn’t even a very good cook!) but I knew that she loved me. So, what is all my busy work worth?

Yesterday I was talking about these thoughts with my friend Jen. She had one exception to my argument that none of my busy-ness really matters in the long run. That one exception is my work towards preservation of land. And yes, I will agree; doing whatever we can possibly do to preserve the land and natural resources surrounding us gives us a sense of purpose and value. All those cute little woodcarvings and hand knitted sweaters and cookies will be gone, but the magnificent trees given by our maker will still be standing long after we’re gone IF we act now, while we are still alive and well.

Larry McDermott wrote an article last week about the very difficult problems now facing our farmers. Second only to the state of Texas, North Carolina lost more farmland last year than any other state in the union, and 80% of that land went for suburban housing. With many people moving from cities into rural Polk County, this problem will be exacerbated.

In the 1950’s, the average house lot was less than 1/2 acre and most non-farm housing was close to municipal services. Now, most lots for new housing are 2 acres or more, not near municipal services, resulting in more traffic, wells, roads, etc. At this rate, NC will have lots of people paying lots of taxes, but nothing to eat. Is this what we want?

Now, I’m going to get back to Qigong and the feeling thing. Experience has taught me that most important decisions are made with the heart. The mind (and the accountant) tells us that we need to sell our land for the highest price – for the sake of our children and grandchildren; but our heart tells us otherwise. Our heart tells us that the greatest gift we can leave our children and grandchildren is clean air, and fertile soil to grow our food. And much of that land must be affordable so that young farmers can afford to farm, and our grandchildren can eat.

Many of us do not own a large piece of land – 5 acres or more – but we all have friends who do. Start learning about ways to save land for farming and/or wildlife, and talk with your neighbors about what you’ve learned. There are many ways to preserve land, but all of them require some sort of action. We have to be pro-active now, before it is too late.

One reason I write this conservation corner every month is in hopes that I can change our way of thinking. Now I realize that it is the same for each and every one of us: first we must feel, and listen to our hearts, and dedicate time and effort to save what we love.

That’s when our thinking comes into play, figuring out how to save this life-sustaining planet. Let’s work together, each and every one of us, to leave a gift that keeps on giving.