We entered a room that was carefully constructed to both embue the senses with beauty, but also to impress. It was a reception room in the home of the U.S. Ambassador to France, and not only was the container most impressive, with gilt-painted molding and enormous mirrors, but the people moving about are heroes in the world of combating the negative effects of climate change; for example, Sheila's hero, of whom I've heard her talk many times, the Honorable Gro Harlem Brundtland, the mother of sustainability policy at the national and international levels.
I was slightly agog as we entered the reception room, but Sheila stepped aside immediately and went to a couch along the side wall where a very elderly man was sitting alone; alone, but without a sense of loneliness, nor self-imposed isolation, but with an air of being at ease with himself and life. We introduced ourselves and soon were on the couch with him, caught up in a rapidly moving account of his life as an explorer of and advocate for life in the Arctic.
His name is Jean Malaurie, and elderly in this case means 93 years old. He is a most highly respected academic - Sheila asked him what the lapel pin he was wearing was. He smiled and gestured upwards with his hand, "It is the Legion d'Honneur, at the highest level (the Grand Croix). But this academic is engaged crusader in the cause of justice for the peoples of the Arctic, especially Siberia, and the Siberian shamen, who have harassed by modern states that have claimed their lands, and increasingly feel the brunt of climate change.
As he talked, ranging across so many aspects of life in the Arctic, I began to wonder what his academic training had been. His Ph.D., he said, was in geologic cryogenics. And then he said, "I began to see, from studying rock formations in the Arctic, that all of the world was in a beautiful equilibrium, that all of the world was interconnected, that it was all alive together." I said, "Gaia," as Jean said, "I later learned that my ideas were very near to those of James Lovelock "(who advanced the Gaia Hypothesis).
In an enjoyable, and important evening, this affirmation of life's interconnectedness was the most important moment of all, and it was birthed by Sheila's compassionate heart that reveres all of life.