How often do we tell ourselves that something better is coming? How many times is it true? Part of the reason for my creation of this blog has been to see what inspires me, what excites me, and what makes me want to get up every day and face the world. I have been given the opportunity to do whatever it is in the world that I most desire – and yet I find myself faltering. I spent two and a half years pursuing a masters degree in ecology, and yet I doubt my abilities. I love plants. I love the wilderness and the landscape level changes that happen – regardless of the activity level of human intervention into the ecological processes. What happens if we do nothing? Everything happens – just as it should. In the past days and weeks, I have begun to refine my passions with regard to applying my degree. I met a gentleman who was a true classical botanist and I have never been more inspired. His passion for identifying plants is infectious. I learned from him that Peter Lesica – the leading botanist in the state of Montana – is entirely self taught. I don’t believe he even has a bachelors degree in botany or plant science of any kind. He began by keying out one plant every day using the available keys, but soon realized the keys were inefficient and disorganized. So,what did he do? He wrote his own.
This is just one of the many stories of inspiration I have heard over the past few months. I have been struggling to decide what I want to do, but have mostly just learned what I don’t want to do. I guess that’s helpful, if only a little backwards. Maybe it’s like a taxonomic key – I have to narrow it down based what it isn’t, or what I don’t like. Apparently, I love to write. I knew this to be true, but more so now I find I am far better able to express myself and communicate with others through writing. Maybe I went to school and learned what I learned to apply it in an unconventional way. Like writing about it, or just experiencing it for myself and sharing it with those around me. It has certainly opened my eyes to what is happening around me in the natural world, and that has been a blessing. My attention to detail has improved dramatically, and has blossomed into an interest in all things natural: geology, ornithology, pyrology? I don’t think that’s a word. Everywhere I go, I look at the landscape and wonder, “How did it get to be this way?”
What I have found is a decreasing desire to spend time outside in nature when it is my job. For the past two years I haven’t been camping or backpacking, and haven’t had the desire to. Even when I take the time to go to the mountains, all I think of is work and how what I’m seeing relates to my job. Every fishing trip and drive down a dirt road triggers “work” in my head when that’s what I do all day. A good friend of mine told me that sometimes taking a job out of your element turns out to be the best because you remove yourself from your passion and are able to leave work at work. You are then able to describe yourself without describing what you do at work. I suppose that is what I have been doing. “I am a rangeland ecologist” seems to be my default answer, not “I am a wife, a gardener, a chef, an amateur bird watcher, a daughter; I have a blue heeler. I want to decorate my house and make it a home; I love to shop at antique stores.” I want to describe myself as someone with passions and interests outside of how I earn money. I want to enjoy my job, but not let it describe who I am. I want to walk out of my job every day and leave it at the door, not bring it home with me. I want my home to be a refuge, a sanctuary, and a loving, cozy place to spend time with the people I love doing the things I enjoy. I can’t focus on growing my tomatoes when I’m thinking about work!