Sunday, February 12, 2012

Long Division

The term writer's block isn't unfamiliar to me, I've had my share, but that isn't what's going on here.  Awake without any notion of what to do with my two hour window before work, I eat breakfast and stare into the distance.  Read? No, I don't want to read.  Ski? no.  So I sit.  And as much as sitting and staring may seem a waste of time, every now and again, that is exactly what I need.  To let my mind stew and work out the jumbled mess tossed in from the previous day(s).  Thus, I write. With a blank slate before me there is no limit to what can be created, no limit other than that which I impose upon myself.  However, consciousness can get  in the way.  Ideas have a life all their own.  Unraveling the mind sometimes requires an absence of thought rather than intensive contemplation.  So what finds its way onto the page is a mystery even to me.  To allow my fingers free reign over the keys is like watching figures take form from a mist.  Ideas that have been in the works in the back of my mind, now have the  freedom to manifest themselves however they, not I, see fit.  "What," is rarely the question for me though, rather my mind is typically concerned with where.  Where am I, in time, place, condition?

The simplest of questions is less clear cut than it would seem.  Where I am, in a sense, is Utah.  But saying I am in Utah gives no understanding to anyone who has never been here.  And what of those who have seen this landscape with their own eyes?  Perception is unique.  What this place represents to me is not the same as it may be for others.  More than the view of snow capped mountains or an immensity that stirs the soul, it is personal world view that shapes this place.  Anything I could tell you about Utah, or any other place, would do no justice to personal experience.  I am here at a time in my life when uncertainty is a companion I take on willingly.  I am discovering the world and life on my own terms.Set backs are as instrumental in defining this place as is the freedom of breaking away, or the beauty of it all.  Where I am now, is slightly out of focus.  I can not believe this place to be limited by borders, political, geographical, or otherwise; its enormity defies all that.  Where I am has no boundaries, no limitations.  These high desert mountains divide the continent, and for me, the world.  Everything I thought I knew about the natural world was learned eastward.  Putting that behind me, I must see the world anew; and that, is perhaps representative of where I am most of all.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Je ne sais quoi

"The world is a big place," doesn't quite do it for me.  Big, does not put the thing into proper perspective.  Let's try on ENORMOUS, IMMENSE, TREMENDOUS.  In short, this blue-green blur in the solar system composed of Fire, Ice, Earth and {insert Periodic Table Here} is quite large indeed.  That brings us to the notion of human understanding.  It is lacking.  Who among us has all the answers?  In such a vast place there is too much to see and experience to tack it all down.  But people learn both actively and passively. The things we don't know can often be gleamed by going out into the world with an open mind.

What does it take to effect change in the world, in our lives?  Staleness, that same phenomenon that makes the bread in your pantry less palatable, is a good kick off, for it affects lives as well.  "Diversity is the spice of life," and that makes habit, a fungus.  Habit and routine are dangerous; they fix blinders to our potential and rob us of the fresh and new.  To bring about change you need to see the world as it is: the beautiful, the grungy, and yes, the stale.  To change have to want change.

Life, our lives, need inspiration.  We need a creative outlet.  By God, sometimes we need a good rant!  Where does one find inspiration?  And through what kind of outlet should such inspiration be channeled?  That one's a tough question but the act of seeking an answer often becomes an answer in and of itself.  Some of the most amazing photographs are of the most mundane things.  What is worth consideration, capable of inspiring, is open to interpretation.  The kicker is that we have, in all our inventiveness and creativity begun to cut ourselves off from the best form of inspiration, other people.  We are socially dependent according to biology, not personality.  The most introverted of us wouldn't have made it a day in this world without other people to care for and protect us.  And one can not deny, in a world more crowded than ever, we keep more to ourselves than ever before.  Gone is the town square, replaced with sidewalks full of cattle.  Brushing against one another and never a hello or a good bye.

Regret is not something there is room for in life but it irks me to know how little I can do for myself.  At 22 years old, I have never changed my own vehicle's oil.  I have no carpentry skills to speak of, and knowledge such as what foods grow in what season, well they don't necessarily teach that in the public school system and the farm belt ain't what it used to be.  Self sufficiency isn't common here and now, but how could it be?
 We go about with our ears plugged, eyes front and center.  How could we hope to learn from our outings in the world when we only see the fabricated one, not the natural.  We are desensitized by movies, games, and the media.  Observing atrocities briefly without experiencing them has allowed us to turn a blind eye.  Global warming, war, the destruction of biodiversity, what does it amount to but rumor and superstition?  Living behind a sterile curtain how could we change?   The age of enlightenment was about figuring out how the world works.  And for all our advancements in math, science, technology, we are only gaining tools without knowing their function.  What happened to that curiosity of childhood that compelled us to break things open and see what made them tick?  When did we start accepting rather than asking?

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Life as a Fluid

This is a piece I've thought about for some time and looked forward to writing.  But now that I sit here trying to force it onto the page, it is appropriately unyielding. Our culture seems to dictate that everything in our lives is part of a plan.  We are a people that thrive on control, of nature, our bodies, careers, our future.  A raft taught me Culture doesn't always get it right.

Life is a fluid; it can not be controled, predicted, or forced into submission. What limited control we have over it is an illusion.  This is a revelation that struck me as I struggled to turn my raft into the current on the Ocoee River.  It turns out, slapping at the water with a piece of plastic is a very insufficient method of controling nature.  For all the strength that I might gain, the river will always push me where it wants...

Life has done the same thing since I left this post as an unfinished draft several months ago.  I have spent another stent in Wyoming, stopped off in Utah, Washington, back to TN, and finally ended up in Utah to live for the ski season.  Life is an uncontrollable force and just as unpredictable.  I have two jobs, live in a house with more people than comprise my immediate family and, while confused beyond hope of return, am unusually focused.  Exactly what I am focused on isn't quite clear but there has been a definite shift within me.  But a shift from what, and to what?

For starters, I have parted with the notion that I am on some crazy adventure, a trip to be defined by a beginning and an end.  Moving here and there, after two years, this is no longer a hiatus from life as usual.  My wanderings have replaced / become the usual.  We must all discover the world on our own terms, learn certain life lessons as only experience can teach them.  The world does not know how to lie, it is the questions we ask and what we expect to find that define the answers.  The truth that irks us is the realization that we, perhaps, weren't looking for the truth when we first set out.  Having substituted other's accounts of the world for natural experience of such, we give our imagination free reign to create the world before us.  Verification of these delusions is what we set out in search of and they are wiped clean with every passing day outside one's home town.  What if we could put off such delusions all together, set aside expectation and presentiment.  Would we be able to find the exhilaration of childhood once again?  Is it possible in adulthood to be astounded by every turn out our front door?  I have found that it is.

Life has a current all it's own.  "Progression in life is not a straight line to an end."  There are twists and turns, tumultuous stretches, placid doldrums, and violent hydraulics that entrap you.  None will emerge unscathed.  We should wear the scars and bruises proudly, marks of the terrain we have conquered, or been conquered and reshaped by.  For it does shape more severely than erosion ever will upon the Earth itself.