Environmentalist Jack Loeffler has just about done it all: He’s been a jazz trumpeter, served in the military, acted as a fire lookout, a museum curator, an aural historian, writer, radio producer and sound collage artist.
He also witnessed the detonation of an atomic bomb in 1957 in Nevada.
“That was a pretty amazing thing. Actually, it was the epiphany for me because it turned everything around and I got to see with a very clear perspective, which is still with me,” he said. “One can’t possibly imagine what that looks like – the photographs, film, none of it captures it. There were colors there that I’ve never seen anywhere else, which was just amazing to me. And there have been some wonderful moments since then that have been epiphanistic as well, but that one ...”
Loeffler recounts this epiphany in his new book, “Headed into the Wind: A Memoir,” which was released in September. Loeffler will be in Durango on Tuesday at Pine Needle Dry Goods to discuss his book.
And he’s got some things to say about our current state of affairs.
“We’re in a state of conflicting absolutes to me right now. Our political situation is as dire as it gets. It’s fundamentally driven by economics and power, lust for power. And the people we have in federal governance, very few of them are worth a whit. It’s a bad scene,” he said. “But, there are people who are responding in beauty. I think I say near the end of the book that we have to trust our children to save us from ourselves. I think that a lot of the young people are really doing that.”
Loeffler said that it’s essential that we relate back to the natural world as deeply and profoundly as we possibly can, adding that without that tie to nature, and without shifting out of that economically dominated paradigm, “we’re simply bereft of proceeding with any kind of clarity, and so that’s my big hope.”
“That’s what this book is all about; it’s a book of hope,” he said. “The notion is to try to help people restore their vigor with regard to the flow of nature.”
Despite what may be alarming world news, Loeffler said he doesn’t think humanity has gone too far, that there’s a chance to reel back the damage that’s been done.
“It depends on the individual. But if enough of us really keep working at it to create a new cultural paradigm based on the flow of nature and ourselves within it, actually recognizing that we have been spawned by this wondrous planet that we live on, then that will help,” Loeffler said. “Intellectually, I’m a little bit pessimistic, but molecularly, I’m optimistic, let’s put it that way.
“I think that we just have to come to understand that economics in its current pursuit, is itself an unnatural act. And that so much human legislation is in direct violation of the law of nature,” he said. “And if that’s the case, you break the law of human legislation, and you live up to the law of nature.”
Loeffler wants readers of “Headed into the Wind” to come away with a feeling of happiness: “Go skinny dipping joyfully in nature as frequently as possible.”
And for a man who has done and seen so much – and who is about to start a new radio series as soon as he’s done with his book tour – how does he want to be remembered?
“As little as possible,” he said, laughing. “The individual is not important; it’s the work that’s important, the person isn’t important. You have to sort of do the work and hope you did a good job.”