Musings on migration

As we prepare to migrate from Isle Royale, where we have spent the past 5 months, these thoughts occur to me:

1) My “family” has been the network of people connected by our National Park Service radio. Each morning there’s a weather report, and throughout the day we hear where park staff are traveling in boats. Mostly, it’s silent, and yet we feel a sense of community and connectedness. Also, in that silence is the opportunity to listen to the wind, the waves, and, with luck, migrating birds, rutting moose, otters, and wolves. It is easy to be happy here.

2) In town, my world is enlarged by National Public Radio and television, and strong discipline is required to avoid feeling discouraged by all “the things I cannot change.” I am grateful to this newspaper for informing me of the many local organizations and projects that I can support. Action helps deal with a sometimes-overwhelming sense of inadequacy and powerlessness.

3) The culture of competition and greed dominates human society around the world. Busyness and self-indulgence are celebrated (“Sure it’s expensive, but I’m worth it!” And “When you care enough to send the very best”). In contrast, my heart nudges me in the direction of gratitude and contentment. I can choose to be satisfied with what I already have.

4) On Isle Royale, nature dominates my worldview. Every species performs a unique role and thus contributes to the coexistence of all. Our species has inflicted a lot of damage, and we have yet to live up to our potential. We are worthy of the gifts we have been given when our hearts are grateful and our scope of caring extends beyond our family and friends.

5) The key is faith. William Cullen Bryant’s poem “To a Waterfowl” describes the inner compass that leads a migrating bird: “He, who from zone to zone guides through the pathless sky thy certain flight, in the long road that I must walk alone will lead my steps aright.” Submitting to that Power is hard for people who are focused on their freedom to accumulate and to be in control that we choose not hear the still, small voice that would guide us.

Carolyn Peterson



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