Deep the Mountain
by Michele Savaunah Zirkle
Mountain top removal has chopped off the peaks of 135 mountains on over 352,000 acres in the state whose slogan is “Wild and Wonderful.”
Home base. Everyone needs one. Even when I’m traveling with wings of steel across the landscapes speckled with the dust of a thousand treetops, I feel anchored deep within the mountains of hope inside of me—mountains that are as deep as what is left of the Appalachians that frame my home state of West Virginia. Mountain top removal has chopped off the peaks of 135 mountains on over 352,000 acres in the state whose slogan is “Wild and Wonderful.” I write this with hope that man’s moral compass will be restored and rise above the missing summits.
Traveling to all fifty states has helped me appreciate the glory of the hills where I grew up. I hope the gorgeous mountain-tops once brimming with wide-winged birds and waving trees recover their majesty soon, but that will take hundreds of years according to the Environmental Protection Agency. I’d be comforted to believe that the contaminated water supply from toxic debris called “fill material” that coal mining companies are dumping into valleys will soon be pristine and fresh, but each headwater stream that is exposed extends the toxic life of the water to an indeterminant date in the future where our grandchildren’s children may be waiting with mouths open wide—the paradox of the “Clean Water Act” of 2002 which permits such irresponsibility.
And yet, I hope. I hope not only for individuals to actively advocate for healthy industrial standards, but for Mother Earth, Pachamama, as she is called in the Andes, to rumble and roar loudly until the wounds mankind has inflicted on her are healed. I hope awareness develops faster than the mountains are obliterated. I hope.
Hope is more than an abstract feeling. Hope is where my very essence lives. Hope is a solid rock on which I dance when flood waters rise and high-perching enemies swoop low. Hope is my home base—embedded in my very essence.
My home base doesn’t change as often as the view in my rearview mirror. The adventurer in me finds comfort in that. Whether flying or driving, I enjoy the feeling of progress while sitting and sipping my coffee—movement with minimal effort. Trekking across country, from the comfort of my seat, tickles me more than a wispy ocean breeze breathing down my neck.
I feel as at home landing at my favorite airport in Phoenix or strolling through a small-town diner in Colorado as in my PJ’s at home. The flame from Panera’s fireplace inspires me just as much as the flames dancing inside my own hearth, but the flame that burns brighter than any other—the heat that ignites a thousand sparks of inspiration—is my soul light burning inside my belly.
This light is home. It goes where I go. This light burns pride and prejudice. It melts fears and dries tears. Above all, the energy from this light turns seeds of hope into manifestations of creativity and rekindles passion for continuing on my path no matter how challenging it becomes.
This light shines before me and illuminates shadows from the darkest forests bursting with the tallest of Redwoods and encourages me to step into the territory of the unknown. Even when the Earth cracks beneath my feet and the whole world seems to shake and rattle me to my core, my anchor is securely connected to the Infinite’s light dwelling within me.
This light shines uniquely in the soul of every man. This light is inextinguishable—even death can’t blow it out.
Sometimes it dims and I run into walls. I get writer’s block or stumble into a lion’s den of karma, but getting disoriented in the dark is a natural consequence of traveling, as any well-seasoned traveler knows.
I sometimes literally hit my nose to drywall while trying to find the bathroom when I forget in which family member’s home or in which hotel I’ve lain my head the night before. Just the other night I mistook the sound of the furnace at my sister’s for the treadmill at the Bed and Breakfast. I recovered my bearings quickly, and thus far haven’t mistaken a desk chair for the commode. Lucky me. Lucky hosts.
When I feel discombobulated, I simply connect to my soul light and feel comforted knowing I am home wherever I am. This light is not a part of me. It is me—the very essence of the Divine.
Even if I have to hike miles in the mud to see the magnificent waterfall in Hawaii or skate on ice to reach the snow-covered bungalow in Alaska, I’m confident the arrangements are first class all the way. I have connections after all—the most elite of connections to the master travel agent in the sky.
I’m relieved my inner resilient architecture can’t be blown to bits and mined for parts like our decapitated mountains laying bare and flattened, not just from neglect of those entrusted to her care, but from those purposely mutilating them for profit.
I will continue to breathe in new adventures knowing I am anchored to the source of my very breath and need not worry when I feel flattened, my ambition desiccated like the crumbling dirt where once stood pious pines and sparkling spruce.
Travel. Dream. Scream for justice if you must. Just make sure to tether your hope deep into the mountain. Mountain mama is home.
“Ecological Impact of Mountaintop Removal.” Appalachian Voices,
Humphries, Jeff. About West Virginia, www.marshall.edu/herp/pages/aboutwv.htm.
“Learn More about Mountaintop Removal Coal Mining.” ILoveMountains.org, http://ilovemountains.org/resources
Michele Savaunah Zirkle, MA, PhD, is a published author, holistic healing practitioner, and life coach. Dr. Zirkle is best known for her inspirational stories of personal transformation which are often steeped in humor. After twenty years of teaching high school English, she now teaches self-empowerment and self-healing to men and women of all ages both in personal and workshop sessions and through her writing.