Posts Tagged ‘fracking’

Sounds of Silence

October 1, 2013

First, I should explain that a different type of silence was imposed on me over the weekend, preventing me from putting up this post when I intended to do so, on Sunday afternoon. The internet link at the motel where I was staying was somehow incompatible with my computer, and the IT people weren’t able to reset it properly. I am back home, and once again connected – able to ‘speak’.

Thank you for patience, for reading, for following, for being there.

Niki
**************


Noise pollution is one of the issues not being adequately discussed in relation to my county’s examination of a proposed fracking ordinance. I brought the topic into the discussion, and I have to keep raising it as others focus insistently on water quality and scarcity, and contamination of the air and soil. By comparison I suppose noise can be considered a less significant negative – but not to me.

I live in the countryside – what most people would consider a truly rural area. My small 900 square foot house is set back from the road, on four acres, abutting a several-hundred-acre ranch. I have three neighbors – houses close to the road with entrance driveways off it, in a cluster with my own entryway. Across the road are two more homes. Most of the time, those neighbors are quiet – so much so that I wonder if they are at home. No loud parties, nor growling outdoor machinery.

I do hear traffic on the highway. My house is situated on a hill toward which the road heads before it veers off, resulting in the longish driveway that snakes from the road up over a hill to my front door. Sitting in my living room, looking out its floor to ceiling windows, I can see a section of the road, and all the vehicles that travel up and down it. I cannot see – but can hear clearly – the heavy trucks and the rattle of gravel excavation that is going on a further 2 miles away, on a section of land that “ought” not to be considered to be in my neighborhood. Something about the lay of the valley funnels that noise straight up to my house.

The gravel operation is new this summer. I don’t know yet if I’ll notice it when my windows are closed, but I am very aware now, with windows wide open, of the days it is running and those, like today, when it is not. Perhaps I’m more sensitive than other people to the ambient noise within which I live?

I do not like to have music playing “in the background” of my days. I work better, think better, live better in silence. I enjoy music, go to concerts, play records (there’s an oldie for you) or CDs with intention to listen to them – emphasis on the intention to listen. If my intention is to work, I prefer to do so in silence.

Undoubtedly, that preference has something to do with my enjoyment of Quaker Meeting, and Buddhist zazen sessions, as well as my own daily spiritual contemplative practice. Undoubtedly it also has something to do with my appreciation of the skill of the young musicians from Curtis Institute who performed Britten’s Quartet #3 for Strings at a recent Music From Angel Fire concert near my home. Two of the piece’s five movements, including the last one, end with a prolonged silence defined by the musicians holding their bows immobile above the strings of their instruments until, as one, they relaxed in their seats, signaling the end of the silence that was part of the movement, and the beginning of the silence into which the audience could inject its noises of appreciation.

Once before, many years ago in Boston, I attended a concert which featured a piano performance that included long silences as part of the piece, and then too I was able to ‘hear’ the difference in quality between the silence that was integral to the music, and the silence of the piece’s end. That time, as I recall, I had no visual cue. I was sitting too far back, in the cheap seats, to see the pianist’s hands. I could only rely on my ears, and the pianist’s flawless sense of timing, to distinguish when musical silence transitioned to an appreciative silence from the audience, which in turn transitioned into loud applause.

A few of my acquaintances seem to understand what I mean when I express my awareness of the difference between the silence of Quaker Meeting, and that in a Zendo. Even the famously silent Meetings (the oldest, historical ones in Philadelphia) which I have attended, have a busy-ness to them, a sense of minds occupied with focused reflection, that is distinctly different from the no-thought silence of a practiced group of Buddhists in meditation. And different again from the life in silence of the Benedictines (and their guests) living at Christ in the Desert Monastery. Different yet again from the experience of many hundreds of chelas (students), attending to the silent communication from our Beloved Teacher at a MasterPath gathering. Dare I say that there are many different sounds of silence?

(Yes I know the Simon and Garfunkle song The Sound of Silence. It doesn’t fit into my narrative because the song is about the negative aspect of silence – silence as a barrier to communication and a symptom of loneliness.)

We seem, in the modern urgency of tuned-in lives, to have forgotten the old adage that silence is golden. We settle for the silver, the copper, even the dross of noisy, busy “I’m somebody, doing something important” daily life and think we are fulfilling ourselves. Just yesterday, I had a Facebook ‘chat’ with a young friend who is torn between his desire to study the classical languages necessary to read ancient Buddhist texts in their original, and the supposedly practical necessity of getting a degree in a subject that can lead to a job. How practical is it, to go against one’s nature, to ignore the still, small, inner voice directing one toward a path of spiritual fulfillment, in favor of a loud, outer, boisterous demand to focus on earning a living?

Inside golden silence, there is much to hear and learn. Whole worlds of perception, of wisdom, exist within our inner silent spaces. Would that we all, individually and collectively, were more insistent on spending time in that beautiful silence within! Would that we all, individually and collectively, could share the golden wealth to be acquired from listening to the songs of the Divine played so beautifully within us. Listen…. and you will hear…

Finding Balance

June 15, 2013

Recently, two quite different groups have asked me to write articles regarding local events. One project is a report on a fun activity of the local amateur “ham” radio (ARES) community in which, on Sunday, June 23rd similar groups all around the country compete to see which one can make the highest number of successful radio contacts, from a field location and “off the grid” of power supply to the radios. San Miguel ARES will be up in the Rockies, above the village of Pecos, running radios off solar panels. ARES functions as a network of radio operators who provide backup communications in emergencies. The San Miguel group coordinates with the county’s Office of Emergency Management, to assure communications in case of wild fires or other catastrophes, more of which seem all but certain to affect us in the near future. The group provided invaluable communication service already, for the Pecos/Tres Lagunas fire. Its members are part of the county emergency planning effort, addressing in particular the concern that a wildfire in the Gallinas watershed could contaminate the water supply to the City of Las Vegas (NM, not NV!) for years to come. The Pecos wildfire (now close to complete containment) came near enough to cause a separate fire-fighting crew to be assigned to protect the watershed.

My second writing project is an essay about the impact on local farmers of the drought, and the seeming failure by the Las Vegas City Council to respond to the threat of severe water shortage. “We won’t run out of water, we never have,” as one councilman put it. Well, we’ve never been in such a severely depleted water situation at this time of year, either. Less than one inch of moisture (including the rain in early June) since the start of 2013.

The group asking for the water story began as an anti-fracking coalition in San Miguel County. I live a short mile from the border between San Miguel and Mora counties. Mora, one of the poorest counties in the state of New Mexico – one of the poorest, probably, in the nation – has recently made a name for itself by passing an outright ban on all fracking activity within its borders, despite a state law that grants oil and gas exploration extraordinary freedoms.

The San Miguel group has begun to morph into a broader coalition intent on protecting water, air and earth. It includes some of the area’s historic ‘rabble-rousers’ intent on overcoming apathy and implementing needed environmental and social protections. They have a challenging task, given the historical perspective reflected not only by the city councilman, but by the populace of the region as a whole. When you live in an area so poor that economic recession in the larger scope of the nation goes relatively unnoticed (not even the Great Depression had much impact on daily life in this area), a survivor mentality takes hold. Little is perceived as likely to alter ‘how things are’ unless or until the threat becomes so immediate (as with the effects fracking would have on Mora County) that it becomes tangible in enough lives for there to be a protest.

When groups face seeming unconcern, they tend to take a confrontational approach. Understandable, though not necessarily the route with the best chance of success. I spent the better part of a day going line by line through a twenty-plus page document, the proposed Oil and Gas Regulation for San Miguel County, finding every place where the wording was inadequate and needed to be changed in order to prevent fracking from destroying my home environment. I provided appropriate alternate wording in my edit. I handed out written copies of my work, and it took me every second of my allotted fifteen minutes of testimony to the County Commission, to specify all the changes the proposed law needs. It did not feel good to be told, by an anti-fracking group member as I stepped away from the podium, that “all I was doing was rearranging chairs on the deck of the Titanic.”

That person’s insistence that only an outright ban like the one in Mora County, was an acceptable decision, probably represents her belief that nothing short of blunt confrontation will “work” to bring about change. I, on the other hand, tend to look for a middle ground, a compromise, which achieves protections and feels like a ‘win’ for both sides. I’ve been trained that way, and perhaps – as a Libra – already oriented that way from birth. It remains to be seen, in what is shaping up to be a serious legal battle, whether Mora’s outright ban will be more or less successful than San Miguel’s pending new proposal, similar to Santa Fe County’s enacted ordinance, which tightly regulates fracking. It remains to be seen just how effective confrontational activism can be at overcoming generations – nay centuries – of a “duck your head, go quietly about your life and survive” mentality. And it remains to be seen how quickly the small San Miguel ARES group can again organize itself to be of service in an upcoming crisis.

What is certain is that both groups are addressing a serious threat to the safety and well-being of all of us in this area. I saved my home from wildfire in 2001, when we had our own conflagration, without resources to help us fight it because those resources were all focused on the larger fire around Los Alamos, burning at the same time. With power turned off, so wells were unavailable, all of us neighbors used what we had -two backhoes and a grader, rakes, shovels and huge amounts of energy – to prevent the fire from reaching a 5000 gallon propane tank. Four homes and a barn were lost, but a wider community of twenty or more families was saved.

What is equally certain is that finding a balance between wants and needs, between gaining income and saving a rural lifestyle, between “the big guys and the little guys”, between confrontation and concession, between use of or destruction of the water, air and earth upon which we all depend – finding balance is essential.


Health

Free PLR Content

MICHAEL GRAY

Original work with a spiritual connection.

Megha Bose

A peek into Megha's mind

Neurodivergent Rebel

Rebelling against a culture that values assimilation over individuality.

The Beauty Along the Road

Discovering Beauty in the small details of our lives

Flowerwatch Journal

Notes on Traveling with Flowers

1eclecticwriter

Wide-Ranging Commentary

Spirituality Exploration Today

Delving into the cross roads of rationality and intuition

O' Canada

Reflections on Canadian Culture From Below the Border

smilecalm

Life through Mindful Media

San'in Monogatari

Legends, folktales, and anecdotes from Japan's San'in region

Matt Travels

your weekly nature and travel blog

Ray Ferrer - Emotion on Canvas

** OFFICIAL Site of Artist Ray Ferrer **

aka The Versatile

Food | Fashion | Lifestyle | Beauty | Finance | Fitness | Education | Product Reviews | Movies | Doodling | Poetess

Aging Abundantly | Women Over Fifty | Empty Nesters | Caregivers | Aging Gracefully

Finding Joy at Every Age with writer/philosopher Dorothy Sander