Dreams are powerful tools that can help guide anyone to success and happiness. They represent some cherished aspiration, an ultimate ideal of achievement.

The word sylvan refers most directly to a setting associated with the woods. Reflecting on the vigorous life that abounds in sylvan settings is a very powerful force in my life. For me, this word evokes feelings of transcendence, clarity, and unity.

A Sylvan Dream is a dynamic compilation of my life dream. It is an attempt to seek out and document the truth, beauty, and clarity that exists in this world.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Waking Up, Reaching Out, and Letting Go this Spring

Shortly after I woke up this morning I walked outside with my dog, and squinted up into the sky, surveying the promise of the day. Scanning the bright yet cloudy sky, I began to catalogue all the birdsongs surrounding me: A grackle in the neighbor’s locust tree, a robin in the by our driveway maple, a pileated woodpecker lower in the locust tree, a starling flying by, etc. I walked to my car for my binoculars after hearing several unknown songs I had been listening to for several days now across the road in a few large oaks.
My neighbor waved glibly to me as I stood in their driveway, looking down momentarily from my binos. Returning focus to my binos, I chuckled, recounting how it is only when I have binoculars glued to my face with apparent concentration and diligence in my stature that people seem to never mind a trespasser. After identifying a cape may warbler gleaning insects from the undersides of glowing maple leaves, (a first-ever sighting for me), I walked up the street towards another warbler song coming from a yet unknown species in the tall oaks.
Cars swerved around me on their way to church, and I got dirty looks from mothers dressed in their Sunday’s best, leaning over to glare through the car window as they passed me lying on my back along side the road. Staring through binoculars can become extremely uncomfortable and taxing on your neck if the birds are directly above you, and it just so happened that the best place to spot the warblers up high in the oaks above me was by lying on my back on some gravel along side the road.
I watched one bird glean insects from the oak foliage for twenty minutes before it finally showed itself as a black and white warbler as it shook an oak pollen tangle with its beak, and flew out into the sun to catch a fleeing insect in mid air.
After identifying 5 species of warblers in one hour within 100 yards of each other, I walked back to the house for some breakfast with a pleasant outlook on the day’s promise. For me, spring is in full swing today. When the warblers have returned to their breeding grounds from several thousand miles to the South, I know it is time to shove my winter hats and long underwear to the bottom of my backpack.
The coming of spring brings at least some change of life to all of earth. For a smaller population of humans, it brings about a poignant change in lifestyle. Each spring, thousands of researchers take to their offices of sorts, referred to candidly as ‘the field’.
For the majority of scientific history, humans have been on the search, seeking knowledge about this world that we live in. However, recently the majority of scientific research has focused on aspects of climate change. In the face of this phenomenon, scientists now must put this search on hold to take a stern look in the mirror. Scientists are now examining the effects that humans have wrought on the rest of the world.
Human impacts are diverse and pervasive throughout virtually all ecosystems known to date. The media coverage has brought such effects to the forefront of human thought under the title of climate change. While we have long known how strongly our actions can impact our surroundings, humans have only just began electing to change after realizing such actions may be compromising the longevity of our species.
In recent years, we have at least begun to recognize and affirm that there is indeed a need for remediation of our lifestyles. In this short article, I hope to inspire everyone to disregard the definition of humanity that media dictates to us on a daily basis. Science has simply shed light on the dark path we are headed down. However, science alone cannot change the direction we are headed.
This spring, go out and discover the world around you, for it will most assuredly open a window into your own life and actions, allowing you to see how you can make your life (and future lives) better by changing simple things you do throughout your day.

With the late-spring night thunderstorms and a hopeful goodbye to morning frost for nine months, we hear the angels of the forest return to the chorus. We are often awoken in the early morning light to the redundant rounds of robin song, or mockingbirds chiding us for our slumber. I have recently found myself more regularly finding measure in men and women I meet by how they choose to greet the first sound they hear in the morning. I have found that people either roll over beneath the covers, lamenting the end of the night, or their arms stretch out from their cocoon, greeting the new day.
While I do not wish to berate those who return to the night, I do admit some skepticism regarding the life choices someone may be making if they cannot begin each new day reaching out to draw it towards them. I am obviously biased in this matter, for it is the beginning of each new day in which I find precious sanctity. I believe this is one reason such an affinity for the life of birds has impacted my life so strongly.
So many mornings of my life have been composed of solitude, void of other humans who have elected to remain in bed while the day has already begun. In such quiet, removed from such toiling, all that resides beyond the focus of humanity emerges, as though I were being welcomed into a life void of humanity altogether. In such pristine moments, I feel my humanity melt away. It is in creeping across logs and wet leaves, in meeting eyes with a fiery orange box turtle beneath a fallen log, in staring at a wood thrush I have flushed from nest, in watching a warbler tug at oak pollen tangles for hidden insects, and it is in watching a peach-faced cape may warbler smack an insect off a maple leaf with its wing, and snatch it out of the air. It is in such moments when secrets of our sylvan family are unveiled that I see just how shortsighted our species has become after staring through a blurry ethnocentric lens for far too long.
In winter we say ‘tis the season, to be kind or something like that. Well, I say spring ‘tis the season’ to let go of your humanity a little more than you are used to. Take a walk through the forest in your bare feet. Walk slowly as an animal would, and you may learn just why they walk in such a way. Forget about the expectations society chains around your neck. Enter the forest this spring to visit your long forgotten kin, and revel in such freedom of letting go.
Some people resist such thoughts, calling out blasphemy to anyone who wishes to shirk their humanity. I would argue vehemently against this point, recalling that I emerge from such excursions with the extent of my humanity in complete clarity. Many sociologists promote achieving a greater worldview through intercultural experiences, and state that it is through experiencing other cultures that we better understand our own. In this same vein of thought, I am human and will always be human, but when I am able to examine the world around me beyond this lens, a whole new world comes into focus. This is no different than traveling to a new county, state, region, or country and experiencing how their way of life differs, which in return brings greater meaning to your way of life.

So this Spring, as nature reopens its eyes and looks up to the blue sky through blinking flower petals, takes a deep breath with a passing thunderstorm, and sings out in avian voices flitting through the trees, I challenge everyone to wake up and reach out from beneath the chains of your humanity. Go out! Greet the day, and find what it is that lies in confusion beyond your focus. Perhaps you will find a window into your own life, and learn just what it means to be a human in this day of age on this earth.

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