Friday, May 16, 2014

The Subconscious Veil

Maybe adaptability is a curse for humankind. We tend to adjust to everything, but, most of all, to our surroundings.

Every day, I drive the same route into work and I leave a nice suburban neighborhood to drive into a kind of rural/suburban one. I drive past farms and past open fields dotted with grazing horses. I also see rows of corn and vines that grow like tonal phrases over music staff fences. I see them, but from an asphalt road and from behind a dead grey guardrail.

Phone and power lines don't ruin the sky, exactly, but they divide it in ways that it shouldn't be divided; they remind me that Man is constantly trying to own Nature and to parse Her into understandable bits when he should be sitting back to enjoy being overwhelmed by Her enormity, comfortably obscure and lost in the vastness of Everything.

We adapt -- we let the ugliness of street signs and power lines and guardrails become a "given." We enjoy the graciously green moments we're permitted.

But today, I briefly imagined the landscape before me absent of roads and metals and wires. I envisioned a time before the New World had been beaten into submission by European arrogance. I imagined uninterrupted green hills and pathless stretches of trees, their silence uninterrupted, as well -- no motors and wheels whizzing through; no jet engines rumbling above; only occasional sounds...ones that fit into the chords composed by God; sounds so natural that they are now poetic cliches: the wind; the rain; the rivers; the animal sounds of life and death.

I imagined this and my throat truly tensed in the prelude to a good cry that never really came -- because there is work to do; because I am too old for that; because I adapted, just like you, to the ugliness that has become a subconscious veil between me and the Good Earth.


  1. I often find myself with thoughts like that. One of the determining factors as to why I chose to go to Stockton (although not the most important factor) was because of its location right in the middle of the Pine Barrens. The woods are beautiful and I try to be outside in them whenever I can, taking the nature trails instead of the paved paths.
    I think about how I wish my home area looked like that...but at one point, it probably did before houses, schools, soccer fields and such were built.

    It's saddening when I think about how rare it is to enjoy nature - how bad is that? Nature is everywhere, but it can only be enjoyed in some places. Heck, you have to pay to go visit the few places on earth "untouched" by human colonization and industrialization.

    I fear that one day, in an even more unnatural Earth, a boy and his father are going to visit a museum of natural history, and the son will see something he doesn't recognize and ask, "Dad, what's that?" And he'll reply:
    "A long time ago, the earth was covered in these things called 'trees'..."

    (sorry for the lengthy comment; nature is just one of things I love)

    1. Joni Mitchell was ahead of you, Mykala -"They took all the trees/Put 'em in a tree museum/And they charged the people
      A dollar and a half just to see 'em." Haha. It's true, though -- it is amazing that we have to work hard to see the beauty that should -- and did -- surround us everywhere. It's a sad thing. Nice to hear from you!

    2. Oh wow, what I said was nearly verbatim! It's comforting and also a little worrisome that the same idea has been around for so long and still is now. It's a very sad thing, and all I can hope is that the future isn't so bleak. And thank you, I'm happy to comment :)!