Manual A Voice in the Wilderness: Conversations with Terry Tempest Williams

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I was thinking about abuse and I believe that we really are in an abusive relationship with the feminine, however we define it — whether it is emotion, truth-telling, anger or understanding, or maybe silence — the feminine in all its diversity.

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I often find that we are minimized, trivialized, invalidated, we are discounted — that makes for craziness. So often, what I feel inside is not mirrored on the outside, and that makes me crazy.

A Voice in the Wilderness: Conversations with Terry Tempest Williams

And, no, I will not allow you to minimize my thoughts or my actions. And, no, I will not allow you to discount me. We cannot do it alone and yet we try to do it alone. That is why I think community is very important and this is why I so appreciate what you have put together with your program. We cannot do it alone. It gives all of us the courage to follow our instincts and our intuition. NS: I find myself feeling increasingly supported in the awareness that what the feminine offers us is the capacity to flex with changing conditions.

To live with uncertainty. If there is a key to cultivating our whole humanity and our voice and our leadership, it has something to do with how we stay connected, and how we live with uncertainty. So, I wonder if you have any thoughts about that because you have lived with so much, Terry. I think about the uncertainty that she lived. As an African woman, as a woman in Kenya, in a very patriarchal society, what was certain for her was that women were carrying the environmental crisis on their backs and that an environmental crisis is an economic crisis, is ultimately a crisis of social justice.

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That was certain to her. She saw it, she felt it, she witnessed it. What was certain for her was that women could change the course of their lives and what was certain for her was the faith of a single seed. I love that and now, you know, how many millions of trees have been planted because of her love and her capacity to grieve for what we were doing to the planet?

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Again, it is that paradox. What is certain, what do we know and what is uncertain and what we will never know? You know, none of us knows how long we are going to live.

Terry Tempest Williams, When Women Were Birds

You and I are speaking to each other. So again, it is a dance, this balance, this scale. And I love how even the brush of a feather can tip that balance. So, I want to live with that feather. NS: It is so beautiful because it is the power of the small and the particular to make big change…. NS: What you are saying gets us back to the dance of paradox. That when you pour cold milk into hot tea, the difference in their temperatures gets resolved by a spiral, whether you stir it or not.

Just the liquid does that. When the seaweeds are dancing in the ocean current, they spiral in order to be resilient. It is a dance, not a marriage, or a reconciliation. TTW: I love that. You know, there is spiral all around us. Perhaps that is the nature of paradox. I went out with Willy and his friends to the spiral jetty out on the shores of Great Salt Lake and it struck me how profound that form and that metaphor is to progress, to evolution, to revolution. NS: I also find myself wanting to appreciate what Wangari did, which was that she kept speaking even though she knew it meant incurring wrath and anger and violence to herself….

TTW: Even being separated from her children and hoping that they would understand and forgive her for what she was taking on. Recently, I was talking with a student of mine about the definition of courage. She said, and I love this: to her, courage is sustained focus. For her courage is that. Because what we appreciate appreciates. I recently attended a memorial service for a dear friend and a remarkable activist who died too young and I found myself so aware that like you, she brought celebration to the fight for justice. I noticed as I was speaking at her memorial, how rare that is, because the fight can so often engender bitterness and anger and we can shut down because it is so hard.

And the beauty and the power of staying connected to what you love, even as you are putting your body, your voice and your heart into helping to ignite change, is something I admire so much. TTW: Yes. I just was at Dartmouth for the last three months. One of the most special days was being on the Dartmouth Green during the Powwow. Dartmouth was one of the first colleges in the country to honor Native people and Native American students.

This was the 40th Powwow they have held on the Green. For two days I sat next to the singers and I just felt their drum beat going up my spine. I think rituals — singing, celebration, dancing — all these things help us move in that spiral of what it means to be human. Often, we seem to be caught in a downward spiral, an entropy of work and scale. Lately, all I hear is: we need to work to scale or scale up, and I just keep thinking really, can we just scale down?

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  4. I just do not understand that. I just find myself wanting to get quieter and quieter and smaller and smaller. NS: [Laughter] Well, and your book invited me into a meditation in such a beautiful way because I want to be slower and stiller, and you know, it is the blur of fastness and pressure and too muchness and busy-ness, that causes me to miss the particularity and the beauty and sacredness and the humor that you are talking about.

    TTW: And then we end up being tired, and angry and resentful and we have all been there. More and more, I just want to be still. How do we find that core of stillness in our heart so that we can, again using your words, fully appreciate where we are here and now. I think it is tied to voice and to paradox. When I was writing When Women Were Birds , I thought I was writing a book about voice, about how we as women speak to the truth of our times, to our own authentic nature.

    Terry Tempest Williams

    But what I have written, Nina, is a book of silences and stillness and I think one begets the other. Again it is that balance of space and time and scale. NS: Well, I find myself aware that the need for silence is also a marker of the imbalance between the feminine and masculine in our culture and in all of us. I was just speaking to a friend the other night about the unfinished wounding in the conquest of this land. The huge destruction that has been wrought on Native peoples all over the world and also the wounds of slavery, of sexism, racism and ageism.

    How do we encourage and invite the healing that can come from naming and ritually pouring our love into addressing all those wounds? I see them as fractals of the same tear in our relational fabric. TTW: Again, love is not the secret. Pain is. And why are we so fearful of that? Because I really believe if we embrace our pain we can move beyond that. Again, I am scratching my head. Here we have a president that we have supported and admired, Barack Obama, and I will certainly be voting for him again. But with a community of people we have been trying to embrace the Arctic to preserve this reservoir for our spirit, and yet it is Barack Obama and his administration that has opened up the Arctic for oil and gas drilling. Terry Tempest Williams - Paperback / Gender Studies / Social Sciences: Books

    They have opened the door to Shell. Just last week in The New York Times , they were talking about how Shell has been very sensitive to the Native American people when in truth, I have an Alaska Native student who has been working with her father to stop drilling in the Arctic, to stop drilling in the Arctic Ocean.

    Write a customer review. Showing of 3 reviews. Top Reviews Most recent Top Reviews. There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later. Format: Paperback Verified Purchase. Having read all of Terry Tempest William's books and been inspired by her prose and poetry, I found this book illuminating too. Throughout the interviews she names authors who inspire her.

    I'm now reading their works. I'm grateful to Williams for bringing these writers into my life, and for the encouragement to write what feels unsayable. I did not receive the product when promised so the seller said they would refund the purchase price, which I am waiting on. See all 3 reviews. Amazon Giveaway allows you to run promotional giveaways in order to create buzz, reward your audience, and attract new followers and customers. Learn more about Amazon Giveaway. Set up a giveaway. Customers who bought this item also bought. Coyote's Canyon. The Open Space of Democracy:. There's a problem loading this menu right now. PH: I feel that so deeply. TTW: What I love is that, in spite of everything, beauty holds us, in whatever form we seek it.

    Just last week, I was so depressed. I cannot believe what is happening in this country. And I thought, stop, too much noise. Too much rage. And I went into the park and drove through Willow Flats. On the edge of the Snake River, I saw the willows move. And there in the clearing emerges this immense being—a grizzly bear.

    And I thought, first and foremost, above all politics, here is beauty on four legs. I just wept. My heart calmed, my eyes opened, and I found a compassion that I had lost. I went out and sat by the river, and all of a sudden there were millions of caddis flies, about the size of your little finger, a constellation dancing on the surface of the Snake River. Grizzly bears eat caddis flies, and I thought, here, now, this is beauty, this is the strategy for survival.

    The earth, the world, bears, on some level I truly believe they will survive us.