Author: Meghan Hayman

I am a junior at Keene State College, dual majoring in Elementary Education and English Writing.
Eye Opening

Eye Opening

Growing up in a world of science is something quite eye opening. I have had the amazing opportunities in my life to learn with every experience that I have through a scientific lens. Why? Both of my parents have backgrounds in the field of science. My father, the most brilliant man I know, is a science teacher. Anything I could ever wonder about he seems to have the answers for me; I am biased about it of course. My mother has her degree in marine biology, this is why I think I have come to such a serious love for turtles over the past twenty years. Sitting in class everyday I find myself wondering about the more in depth things that we could learn through writing about the environment.

The fact that all over the world there are billions of people who will never understand what we have. Our world is so amazing and provides so many different materials that we all need to survive and all we keep doing is trashing it. After reading the first section of Environmentalism by Ramachandra Guha I became interested in what we as humans have done to our earth. Of course the question, “are we destroying our own earth?” is such a huge one that we can probably never answer it fully. Guha leads a reader to understand the scale of destructiveness and the ongoing “slow violence” that makes it so difficult to address. I think it is obvious that we can’t fully answer it. But we can begin.

Guha himself is a teacher, he fills the mind of kids with the important information that is needed to ‘survive’ on this earth. For him to be a teacher it allows me to connect to him through the need to help people learn. Being a teacher especially in environmental awareness is something that I can assume is harder than teaching math. He himself has this ability to tell the world what is happening, what we need to change, why, and how we are going to go forward. Such an influence is what can start this whole journey towards changing our ways and helping the environment. Therefore, after finding out Guha’s personal background it had me thinking even more, deeper into the meanings of change and the answers to resistance against our own personal destructiveness against the world we live in.

I found myself wanting to think so much farther into the information that I have prior knowledge on. Learning about all of the different eras of environmental trails and tribulations clears our minds to the truth about how we got to where we are now.  Environmentalism is to have concern about the environment and I personally feel that everyone no matter what, has concern. We humans and animals live on earth, this living, orbiting, and growing thing that some how supports our lives. That is insane just to think about even the slightest bit. Our minds don’t have the capability to wrap themselves around what we truly have here in this world and the lives that we are living every single day until we die.

Unsplash -Jay Wennington

Listening to all of my professors this semester and in previous semesters I haven’t really thought too much about the deeper meaning behind their teachings. You just kind of do the work, whatever they say you just do it. But in this course, Writing in an Endangered World, I am very interested in seeing how we progress. Learning about our world and the environment through a critical lens of writing is one thing that I find to be very incredible. Using words to describe and create the world is a beautiful quality that people have. Writers such as John Muir who physically go out into the environment and then write about their experiences are the types of writers that tell the true and full story. I want to be a writer who has the ability to tell the full truth even if that means it is the ugly truth. Reading other writers gives the opportunities to the reader to clearly think through the elements of non-fiction and what certain writers such as Muir and Rachel Carson are truly trying to do when they fill in the lines of a book with their stories. Every detail is physically right in front of them and we luckily have the experience to be able to mentally be there with them.

What is More than Human?

What is More than Human?

Some Questions You Might Ask

Is the soul solid, like iron?
Or is it tender and breakable, like
the wings of a moth in the beak of an owl?
Who has it, and who doesn’t?
I keep looking around me.
The face of the moose is as sad
as the face of Jesus.
The swan opens her white wings slowly.
In the fall, the black bear carries leaves into the darkness.
One question leads to another.
Does it have a shape? Like an iceberg?
Like the eye of a hummingbird?
Does it have one lung, like the snake and the scallop?
Why should I have it, and not the anteater
who loves her children?
Why should I have it, and not the camel?
Come to think of it, what about maple trees?
What about the blue iris?
What about all the little stones, sitting alone in the moonlight?
What about roses, and lemons, and their shining leaves?
What about the grass?

-Mary Oliver, from House of Light (Beacon Press)

Week one

This large question, “what is more than human?” is one that on an average day you wouldn’t consider. The poem above by Mary Oliver is the perfect example of questions that we might as ourselves when discussing, what is more than human. Starting the college course Writing in an Endangered World had my mind thinking about more than human. I myself was unsure if what I had would even be considered a more-than-human world thing. How could one possibly define a picture to be more than human. We are humans, every person walking down Appian and entering into your classes are physical human beings. But what about animals? Reptiles, mammals, insects, and so many more, are these things considered to be the more than human? Just like the poem states, what shape does this question take form in? Do we all have different views of what the more than human world or living thing is. Of course we do, everyone takes on their own personal perspectives based around what it means to have a more than human characteristic.

In our world we own domesticated animals and in the minds of many these animals are considered to be the same as humans. Of course my dog is a real person, he may not answer me but he sits there staring at you like he knows exactly what you are saying. For those who have pets at home I can rightfully assume that they are the same as you. You would do anything to save your loving furry friends and they would do anything to save you. I couldn’t imagine coming home and not having something there to greet me, whether that is a dog, a cat, a bird etc. These other living things are something that we all love and we all cherish.

I feel as though the more than human world is something greater than we can even imagine. For example: the picture I used in class for my introduction was me sitting in a little boat reaching my hand out right before the whale set his head onto the side of the boat for us to pet it, just like a dog except it weighs 40-tons instead of 80 pounds. That is something that I would consider to be more than human.  It isn’t possible to invite this creature into your home to stay for their life span and never would one think that petting it like your domestic cat would be a possibility either. The world itself is more than human because of experiences and creatures that surround us at any given moment. The plants, the insects that live below the surface that we as humans have never even seen before, and the dinosaurs that have been around for millions of years before we came onto earth. All of these things are more than human.

Earth is constantly changing. Therefore, the environment is also changing. Each second something new is happening and one more thing is considered to be more than human. Human lives clash with the more than human life forms anytime one does anything. Getting up off of your couch and going to get something to eat is changing the more than human world. Everything we have and use comes from something else in this world that isn’t a human. The screen you are reading this on comes from the most intense amount of technology that we as humans created but not without the help of the more than human earth that we live on. Next time you’re just sitting around, think about the insane amount of more than human things that are occurring right next to you, outside your window, and miles away in your home town and just take a second to realize that we as humans are the smallest thing since we live in a world surrounded by more than human objects and life forms.

My favorite part about Mary Oliver’s poem is the last line, “What about the grass?” after thinking over this great question, it all comes down to the even smaller things. Aren’t all living organisms more than human. Of course the grass is living and it isn’t ‘human’ to say the least but we do interact with it, we cut it, throw chemicals on it, and watch it grow. I think that it is safe to say that the more than human world is beyond anything we could ever imagine. Its characteristics change on a daily basis just like we as humans change too. So let me as you this question, what about the grass?