Midweek Rant #8: Appreciation

April 9, 2009

Several weeks ago I was wandering around the library, engaged in my nonsensical ritual of waiting for a book to call out to me.

“Psst, Jesse!  Over here…”

I excitedly turned to see what book it was, and within four seconds I was in a mad dash for the exit.  Now I know what you’re thinking, perhaps the voice speaking to me was not an imaginative personification, but an agent of a secret society that had been surreptitiously tracking my every move and was finally ready to make me its leader, as the sacred scrolls had both predicted and demanded.

But in fact it was just my imagination, personifying an energetic tug from a very particular book.  A book on plants.


In the four terrifying seconds of lag time, my mind opened itself to the possibility of learning about all sorts of plants and then trees and then maybe animals, and acquiring the sort of vocabulary that would make me the most interesting guy you could bring along on a nature hike. 

And then I ran.

I managed to escape sixteen years of education without knowing the difference between an oak tree and a pine tree.  And I’m damn proud of that.  Oh, I know, I know.  If I were to learn about all the different types of plants and trees I would develop an appreciation for nature. 


I hate Appreciation.  I hope I never learn about different plant names.  It’s not that I don’t like plants, quite the contrary.  I love plants and nature.  I love them so much, I refuse to allow them be ruined by developing an appreciation for them.  I’ve allowed appreciation to ruin too many things in my life: movies, music, microbrews.  Appreciation knows no bounds, and would happily continue on with its ambition to simultaneously muddy and de-mystify all the pleasures of life.  Unless stopped, it will rage on.  If you find yourself being lured by its siren song, I suggest you run.  Run for your life!  (please obey crosswalk signals)

I’ll leave you with a poem by Walt Whitman I first read in a Poetry class ironically aimed at developing an appreciation for the art form:


The Learn’d Astronomer by Walt Whitman

When I heard the learn’d astronomer;

When the proofs, the figures, were ranged in columns before me;

When I was shown the charts and the diagrams, to add, divide, and measure them;

When I, sitting, heard the astronomer, where he lectured with much applause in the lecture-room,

How soon, unaccountable, I became tired and sick;

Till rising and gliding out, I wander’d off by myself,

In the mystical moist night-air, and from time to time

Look’d up in perfect silence at the stars