In the effort to support Dzhokhar, I never know where my next inspiration will come from. So I listen and observe, I absorb and feel as I go about my daily life. And I try not to panic when the days of nothing new begin to add up.
Panic leads to grasping at straws. I refuse to publish a blog post to satisfy that inner anxiety.
I have been hearing the lament amongst some of Dzhokhar’s most ardent activists (for that is what we are really, not fan whatevers, not conspiracy theorists). The lament concerns the dwindling number of those who are still speaking out on his behalf.
It is for them and for me as well that I offer the following quotes from a beautiful documentary entitled “River of No Return.”
“I married a dreamer. Isaac follows wolves into the mountains of Idaho and now I’m following him. He’s always had this dream of living in the wilderness, a whole year in the River Of No Return. It was his idea to make a film about this place.”
“The Dipper, just a small gray bird on big gray rocks, but unassuming as it looks, it seems to lead a pretty exciting life. Dippers thrive where the river is roughest, flying straight into the rapids to hunt for aquatic insects. The great naturalist John Muir wrote that the Dipper’s nest was one of the most extraordinary examples of bird architecture he’d ever seen. And he was right: a beautiful moss globe perched out over the water; it seems a menacing place to have your home, where your chicks’ first steps into this outside world become a frigid sink-or-swim plunge. But somehow it works for them. They seem so perfectly at home in chaos.”
“There’s greatness in these salmon. I’m always amazed that in such epic terrain it’s not wolves but fish that really go the distance. I think of the millions that once made this run. And they seem to me like wilderness itself, a fraction of what it once was. Embattled, but not bowed.”
“It’s turning August when we meet the Chinook salmon again. They’ve made it all the way up to these small clear streams where they find the gravel beds they need to lay their eggs. After three to four years at sea and a tough climb up a mountain stream, they’re ready for their final act.”
“It’s hard to see the salmon all in tatters. Last time we saw them, leaping Dagger Falls, they seemed invincible. They’re approaching the end of their lives, but they’ve succeeded. It must be a great thing to reach your ultimate goal, to fulfill your life exactly as you’re meant to.”
“There are times now when I feel like I’m struggling upstream myself. Just before we set off on this adventure, I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis. My immune system has gone haywire and is attacking my joints. It’s been moving around from shoulder to hip to knees to feet, raising hell on some days. It’s not something I like to talk about, even with Isaac. When it really flares up we have to stop. And I know my pain is just as hard on him. But I was not gonna miss this journey. You make your choices and take your chances. Life comes with no guarantees. I choose an adventure with hardship over no adventure at all every time.”
“There’s no help for an injury out here. To survive, it’s good to be strong. It’s even better to be lucky. We’ve been watching the elk with some anticipation, figuring the wolves shouldn’t be too far behind. Good wintering grounds for elk make good wintering grounds for wolves. And for an injured elk, that doesn’t bode well. It’s hard not to pity an elk in this condition. The wolves will be quick to single her out. By dusk, the pack’s isolated the injured elk on the ridge and I’m secretly rooting for her, even though I know the wolves are probably doing her a favor. Then something remarkable happens: a companion appears and puts herself between the wolves and the injured elk. All my textbook biology fails me. When it’s survival of the fittest, where’s there room for this compassion? In the fading light, I think I’m seeing things. But I can just make out the wolves, the injured elk and this unexplained companion risking her own life to defend her. In the morning I’m completely astonished: the injured elk and her companion are still together, somehow having survived the night. The wolves are nowhere in sight.”
I’ve just finished watching the documentary from which the quotes above are taken. As scene after beautiful scene unfolded, I found myself thinking about the deep principles nature often displays. Almost immediately I then began thinking about Dzhokhar and the extreme challenges he faces.
I care deeply about if and how he is able to navigate these challenges. Like the injured elk, I am not alone thanks to those with hearts like mine, and neither is Dzhokhar. If only we could make him aware of that! I guess that’s why it helps to have total faith in the God who is the source of true compassion.
Sometimes I am the injured elk, sometimes I am the defender of the weak and injured. God is with me through both conditions, the reason I am able to go on. In this dog-eat-dog, eye-for-an-eye, every-man-for-himself world how can I explain our compassion for one accused of such a terrible crime? Simply put, I believe it is part of God’s divine intervention on his behalf.
I am the human equivalent of the Dipper. I would describe myself as unassuming, that is, until you look a little closer. In my quest to change the world for Dzhokhar, I too head for the place where the river is the roughest, often diving straight into the rapids of human experience. At some point along the way, I learned to be at home in chaos because change is chaotic.
Like the salmon, I am embattled, but now bowed. I am determined, like them, to succeed, to reach my ultimate goal of helping Dzhokhar however I can, to fulfill my life exactly as I am meant to.
Many times, I too feel like I am swimming upstream. At times, I know there is greatness in me. For brief moments I feel invincible, only to arrive at my destination in tatters. I know all too well that out here, in my chosen way of life, it is good to be strong and even better to be lucky.
I am honored to be counted among those who would willingly put themselves between Dzhokhar and the wolves who would destroy him. I firmly believe we will survive the night and when the day breaks at last, we will still be together and the wolves will be nowhere in sight.
I carried my own significant burden of pain and suffering as I entered this fight. I had to weigh the cost of making public my support for Dzhokhar. And I decided, like Isaac’s wife that “I was not gonna miss this journey. You make your choices and take your chances. Life comes with no guarantees. I choose an adventure with hardship over no adventure at all – every time.”
I invite you to watch the following song video. I urge you to watch it through to the message in the caption at the end. Then, will you retweet this post if you’re with me?