Sunday, 28 February 2010

Tree Hugging Dirt Worshippers

It's not until you get back to nature that you realize that everything is out to get you. (Dana Scully, The X-Files 3x22 "Quagmire")


Don't get me wrong; I love nature. I respect nature. I just don't like to get it on me.

It's yet another way in which I am antithetical to what modern pagans are assumed by some to be. Not all of us are happy hippies wallowing in mud-holes. I enjoy the fantasy of Ye Olde Dayes as much as anyone else, but I like my fantasy sanitized and romanticized, thanks. Drop me at the nearest ren faire--in garb, of course, and preferably with a tankard of mead to hand--and I'm happy, knowing that air conditioning and running water are never too far away. Talk to me of multi-day outdoor festivals and primitive camping and my horror is palpable. Nature and I do best when we maintain a respectful distance.

I am being hyperbolic, to a degree. I have camped, although I derive little enjoyment from it; I like the idea of camping a great deal more than I like the reality of it. I have attended festivals, though they've seemed an awful lot of expense and discomfort for very little payoff. I like to go outside and dig in the dirt and soak in the atmosphere and such, go for hikes in the woods and spend time at beautiful sites. There are places that break my heart with their beauty, places that shimmer with power and majesty and mystery, and it enriches my soul to be in those places. But I am not very well suited to outdoorsiness in general.

Insects love me. Other humans have accused me of being bitter, but bugs think that I am very, very sweet. They love to drink my delicious blood and nom on my tender flesh. I am luminously pale (though definitely not sparkly) and, thanks to the lack of ozone layer, burn more easily than ever before. I can scarcely step foot out the door at the height of summer without cooking up to a wretched lobster color. Basting myself in SPF3000 every five minutes is a real pain in the ass, but it's either that, swaddle myself in a burqa, or court melanoma with every moment. I don't do well in extremes of temperature; having been raised as a hot-house flower, my comfort band is pretty narrow. If I get too cold, I huddle in a miserable semi-conscious heap; if I get too hot, I become hostile. Unless I have a very compelling reason for subjecting myself to the elements, I like to limit my exposure. Contrary to popular belief, and to what I may have led you to believe during this little diatribe, such compelling reasons do exist; but since I have had lots of bad experiences of the outdoor life over the past decade-plus of active paganism, I have become reluctant to expose myself further.

You can respect a thing--love it, even, revere it, want to preserve and nurture it--without wanting to get too very close to it. I love lions, but I think they'd only love me as lunch.

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