It is horrifying that we have to fight our government to save the environment.
I used to talk about running out of things and say, “No one believes we’re running out of anything. I think we’re running out of everything. We’re running out of out.” Out is where my parents threw their garbage. You threw the garbage out. You can’t throw the garbage out anymore. Out is where your children are going to live, where your grandchildren are going to live.
To me the outdoors is what you must pass through in order to get from your apartment into a taxicab.
I can remember when the air was clean and sex was dirty.
The conservation movement is a breeding ground of Communists and other subversives. We intend to clean them out, even if it means rounding up every bird-watcher in the country.
The human race’s prospects of survival were considerably better when we were defenseless against the tigers than they are today, when we have become defenseless against ourselves.
If I were to spit upon the revered black stone in Mecca during the height of the annual pilgrimage, I would be slain on the spot by enraged pilgrims for daring to profane the sacred symbol of Islam. An Israeli soldier’s bullet in the back would be my deserved fate for scrawling graffiti upon the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem. . . . Life would not be pleasant for me if I took a hammer to the Pietàs in the Vatican, for we humans hold our creations dear, and we deal harshly with those who fail to share our reverence for old stone walls, meteorites, marble statues, icons, and architecture. . . . Yet each and every day, humans enter the most sacred and reverential cathedrals of the natural world — the redwood forests of northern California or the rain forests of Amazonia — and each and every day we profanely rape these great mysteries with chain saws and bulldozers.
Humankind — despite its artistic pretensions, its sophistication, and its many accomplishments — owes its existence to a six-inch layer of topsoil and the fact that it rains.
For the average man, the world is weird because if he’s not bored with it, he’s at odds with it. For a warrior, the world is weird because it is stupendous, awesome, mysterious, unfathomable. A warrior must assume responsibility for being here, in this marvelous world, in this marvelous time.
I woke up in the middle of the night and climbed out of the tent to make coffee. There was no sound save the wind and, in all that space, not one light, just a scant new moon that hung in the sky like a fine silk thread. The twentieth century had vanished. I raised my cup in a toast.
Nature is not a place to visit. It is home.
The heron, unseen for weeks, came flying wide-winged toward me, settled just offshore on his post, took up his vigil. If you ask why this cleared a fog from my spirit, I have no answer.
If the Garden of Eden really exists it does so moment by moment, fragmented and tough, cropping up like a fan of buddleia high up in the gutter of a deserted warehouse, or a heap of frozen cabbages becoming luminous in the reflected light of roadside snow.
Moses sees the bush as it actually is. . . . All that is living burns. This is the fundamental fact of nature. And Moses saw it with his own two eyes directly. That glimpse of the real world — of the world as it is known to God — is not a world of isolated things but of processes in concert. God tells Moses, “Take off your shoes, because the ground where you are standing is holy ground.” He is asking Moses to experience in his own body what the burning bush experiences: a living connection between heaven and earth, the life that stretches out like taffy between our father the sun and our mother the earth. If you do not believe this, take off your shoes and stand in the grass or in the sand or in the dirt.
They paved paradise and put up a parking lot.
After you have exhausted what there is in business, politics, conviviality, and so on — have found that none of these finally satisfy, or permanently wear — what remains? Nature remains.