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Field Program

[Image Description: Two MCC members taking a brief break; one is sitting on a rock, the other is standing nearby. They are both in their uniforms, looking out at the expansive, mountain view surrounding them.]

Finding Enlightenment In a Pair of Loppers

A puddle in the middle of a wide road, reflecting the pink and blue sky above.

The Buddha says that most suffering is basically self-inflicted.

A score of disappointments presided over the Bozo Crew’s arrival at the Red River Ranger Station, a solid hour from the nearest town. Their backcountry wilderness cut and run had turned swiftly into a front country ATV trail brush fest. Their picks were traded in for loppers, and Loppalooza 2023 had begun. Chief among these disappointments was that a “cut and run” is decidedly more exciting in name and content than a “brush and amble.” Furthermore, 8 nights of front country camping, while certainly more comfortable, is less adventurous than packing 60 lbs+ deep into the wilderness on an indeterminate schedule— and, while on the subject, a wilderness trail is simply more fun for trail work than an ATV trail. This is for a couple of reasons. For one, our backwoods Bozos would take the quiet and slow subtlety of crosscuts over the harsh motors of chainsaws any day. Not to mention, there is some elusive and psychologically demoralizing element of a double-wide dirt road, which is oddly draining when compared to the humble hiking trail. Perhaps it is just that they are made for motors and not man, that we can’t experience the trail in its intended fashion. Maybe there is something comforting in the soft corridors of a single tread.

All this aside, the fact of the matter is that, regardless of our personal feelings, the work needed to be done.

And so— What is to be learned from the set of loppers? From the handsaw? From hours of pruning and swamping wooden thickets amidst dense lodge poles?From views that are austere and wooded, rather than sprawling and picturesque?

Writing with the hindsight that a month and a half allows, your simple correspondent would earnestly say that this hitch proved to be the dark horse contestant for the most significant and personally edifying project thus far for the season. There is profundity in simplicity when given the space to breathe.

More importantly, there is a profound joy in the self-effacement of acceptance.

It is easy to bang one’s head against the brick wall that reality sometimes appears to be. It is tempting to pester the toothache and moan for the world to hear, to paraphrase Dostoevsky.

It is ostensibly rather hard to accept reality when we do not wish to, but perhaps that difficulty is self-manifested. Really, it just takes wisdom and experience, and the Bozos of MCC once again must credit their luck in having what often appears to be the best job in the world for exactly this necessary experience.

Because truly, accepting reality is as easy as feeling the sun on your face, watching the black squirrels hop trees, tasting the first huckleberries of the season, seeing the pink sunset reflected in the clouds, and clearing brush for the great and benevolent wildernesses of Idaho, and those who appreciate it.

This is Josef K. of MCC, signing off, one step closer to enlightenment.