Petty Stuff

SUBHEAD: Heading into the great wide open, I feel summer creeping in. It feels like Mary Jane’s last dance.

By Guy McPherson on 31 May 2012 for Nature Bats Last -  

Image above: From Tom Petty bowing at the end of a set. (
[IB Editor's note: We have removed the links to the Tom Petty YouTube videos (some with ads) that were under the bold italicized lyrics from original article. Go to original article to view them.]

Early in my life, I couldn’t help believing there was a little more to life somewhere else. Of course, I was seeking something grander in the usual, industrial sense. A few decades later, I finally recognize that there is a little more to life somewhere else, especially if that somewhere else is beyond civilization.

Now I fear we’ve said all there is to say, and that we will keep talking but not acting. At what point will we listen to our hearts? That’s what I need to know. Not knowing is turning me inside out.
Although we don’t talk too much about it, ain’t no real big secret what we’re doing to our only home. Mother Earth is screaming: Don’t do me like that! Yet we keep drumming away, the path of destruction in our wake obvious to all but the willfully ignorant. If Earth has memory, it’s not going to be easy to forget about us.

We often forget nature satisfies our every need. But when I look at the stars on a clear night I’m reminded she’s all I need tonight. And every night. For me, termination of the ongoing omnicide can’t come fast enough. Indeed, the waiting is the hardest part.

I got lucky. You got lucky. We all got lucky. We were born into this world, at this time in history. We are witness to the worst of times as the industrial economy drives 200 species to extinction every day, as human-population overshoot increases at the rate of more than 200,000 people every day, as we ratchet up climate chaos every day, as we destroy non-industrial cultures at an accelerating rate, as we wash soil into the world’s oceans, as we foul the air, as we pollute the water, as more than a billion people go hungry every day. But we’ll get to see the living planet make a comeback, too. If only we don’t come around here no more, weapons of mass destruction at the ready.

For my part, you could stand me up at the gates of hell but I won’t back down. Actually, we’re already poised at the gates of hell, although the world’s governments and media have been protecting us from that news. Meanwhile, I’ll keep runnin’ down a dream that never would come to me, rolling on as the sky grows dark. Trying to save what’s left, before there’s nothing left.

The living planet is free falling. Our future, if we have one, will require considerable creativity and flexibility. Metaphorically, we’ll be learning to fly, as I’ve been doing for the last several years.
We’re heading into the great wide open. I feel summer creeping in, and it feels like Mary Jane’s last dance. There’s something in the air: We’ve got to get together sooner or later because the revolution’s here.

Video above:Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers Greatest Hits, 1993. From (
[Author's note: The references to Tom Petty songs in this essay are presented in the same order they appear on the Greatest Hits album by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. Full album is here ( An earlier, self-indulgent attempt to describe my life in song is here (]

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