Saturday, March 5, 2016

Ego-systems and the Great Valley: No, that's not a misspelling, it's poetry

I've been meaning to get to this for awhile. I had the privilege a few weeks ago of attending the 2016 Gala fundraiser for our local treasure, the Great Valley Museum of Natural History at Modesto Junior College in California's Central Valley. The museum building is new, having opened only two years ago, but the museum has existed for more than thirty years in less than favorable quarters. The museum today is five times larger and includes a Science on a Sphere, a planetarium, a pendulum, and great exhibits displaying the natural history of our valley. It is a marvelous community resource that is a great place to visit. It will continue to grow with the opening in a year or two of a large outdoor education laboratory rising from the barren lot north of the present museum.

We further had the privilege of hearing a reading by Sam Pierstorff, past Poet Laureate for the City of Modesto, Professor of English at MJC, and recent American Ninja Warrior. His poem on "Ego-systems" was a treat.

—A poem for the Great Valley Museum, February 20, 2016
by Sam Pierstorff

If you have never laid on the sandy shore
near Long Lake in the Emigrant Wilderness
and looked up at the black expanse of sky
dotted with stars like crystal tears, then you may
still believe that you are the center of the universe.

If you’ve never crossed the African Savanna
in a rickety jeep, binoculars bouncing around
your neck as you spy a pride of lions as they rip
bone and flesh from a zebra, then you might believe
that you are at the top of the food chain.

Newsflash: The Butterfly Effect is not about you.
No tsunami ravishes Japan just because you winked
at a cute barista at Starbucks. Neither is an earthquake
in Nepal the result of the fit you threw when she forgot
your whipped cream and extra shot of espresso.

But if you still can’t believe that the world
does not revolve around you, then come here.
Let the Great Valley Museum reveal the eco-system
that keeps you alive, and let it extinguish the flames
of your ego-system that consumes you with lies.

You are not one-celled algae, but you are certainly
not a blue whale, not an acorn nor a valley oak,
not a feral kitten eating tuna from an old sandwich
nor an African lion with a mane like spun gold.

You, like all of us, are part of an interdependent
web of life. We need each other like the soil
needs the sun, like a book needs a reader, like a student
needs a teacher, like this valley needs a museum
to shine a spotlight on the wonders of the world
like the way it holds us up even when we let it down.

Here—in the heart of the Central Valley
where education and potential pulse
through the veins of every person
who walks through the doors
of this Great Valley Museum—
you will finally learn to love
something greater than yourself.

The Great Valley Museum is a marvelous resource for our community, built by our community, and staffed by employees and a dedicated group of volunteers from our community. It's the best of Modesto! If you ever come by on your way to Yosemite or Tahoe, the museum is a short distance from Highway 99 and is worth a visit, and it will soon be even better.

1 comment:

Hollis said...

Neat! thanks for sharing. And congratulations again on the Great Valley Museum. I like hearing such good news.