What seems apparent to me is the farther a person is removed from the land, from nature, the weaker the connection, the more tenuous the relationship, the less humility and the more ego they have.
Too many distractions, too much stress, and too easy to get caught up in all the trappings of urban life.
We weren’t made to live in stacked cubicles or row after row of houses, no more than the captives at the zoo were made to live in cages – we weren’t made to fall asleep to an endless lullabye of background noise.
Sure people can make trips to the park or the zoo, maybe go camping or hiking on occasion but the dynamic is entirely different.
Then of course there are people who aren’t interested in such things, who wouldn’t surrender the “convenience” of the mall, traffic lights, the din, or the “harvesting” experience of the weekly trip to the grocery store.
Nothing wrong with that if that’s their preference as life is about choices….but such choices aren’t mine.
Some regret the choices they made, like the acquisition of all those credit cards, the job and situation they find themselves in, the burden of debt, or crawling along the freeway as traffic slows to a snails pace and the brownish haze of their fellow exhaust spewing travelers necessitates that they roll up the windows and encapsulate themselves in a biosphere of necessity and their own making.
The greatest regret should be the loss of family time, of tranquility, peace and quiet, shuttling children off to daycare and life governed by the hands of a clock – the “nuclear family”.
The postal service rarely delivers personalized handwritten letters anymore – it’s an endless array of junk mail and bills, the totem of the urbanite.
But the web has been spun, the prey ensnared, and it’s no easy matter extracting oneself from it.
City life can be a little precarious at times, the dependency sobering when examined – if there’s a garbage strike people have to live with mounds of garbage as far as the eye can see.
If there’s a power outage that continues for a time the urban lifestyle is turned upside down – what’s in the fridge goes bad, there’s no television, no internet, and once the batteries run down there’s no cell phone, tablet, or laptop.
Nothing to do but wait as darkness descends – no quiet walk in the woods, no gentle breeze sighing through the trees, only concrete, steel, anxiety, the sound of sirens wailing, and the waiting.
A water main bursts and chaos ensues, there’s a run on the store for bottled water and the possibility of having to boil water once service is restored.
Irate calls flood the water department demanding restoration from a sterile detached voice on the other end of the line that is pre recorded as a matter of “covenience”, “saving time”, and the game of musical buttons begins, press one if you want this, press two for that, or press three for the other.
A traffic light goes out and it’s instant anger, a little of that road rage and a resulting congestion that makes pneumonia look like a case of the sniffles.
La Dolce Vita, the good life, with all the associated trappings, cares, concerns, foibles, pretenses, and stress. Perhaps mi vida loco is closer to the reality for those who endure.
Reminds me of a line spoken by Mickey Rourke’s character in the movie Barfly where he says not just anyone can be an alcoholic, it takes endurance. So too not just anyone can be a city dweller, it takes endurance and no small measure of surrender and undue compromise.
Fall through a crack and everything unravels – no job, no home, no car, the cardboard box and homeless shelters become the way of it.
Passersby cast the same look your way as the one you were previously guilty of.
People no longer know you, there’s something unsettling, even leperous and possibly contagious about your situation that looking away or tossing a few coins into an outstretched hand fails to remediate.
I don’t believe modern life is all that “civilized”, there’s a lot of dog eat dog out there – dangling carrots like those Black Fridays or whatever they’re called where people will forget they’re “civilized” and morph into a mob mentality is a prime example.
Daily reports of shootouts and crime like a never ending tsunami that give rise to gated communities, security alarms, and even “safe rooms”.
Locks upon locks, bolted doors and windows, security cams and motion sensing detectors activating high wattage lights.
Maybe a gun in the nightstand by the bed, a bat by the door, or a dog who will at least bark if nothing else.
Dangled carrots like the latest fad, the latest must have or run the risk of not being seen as a bona fide member of those in the know, those who belong, those who have “arrived” or will be arriving shortly.
The poor pitted against those who aren’t, a reminder that there but for the grace…….poverty, a tool utilized to insure the minimum wage worker remains both thankful and fearful, kept in their place. The true silent majority no longer so silent and paying the price for it.
And what’s up with that standing in line overnight to get the latest iphone or tech gadget, would the same people demonstrate the same commitment to stand in line to help a less fortunate out, spend a few hours at a rally or marching in the streets to protest an inequity?
No, the majority probably wouldn’t because their lives are governed by the clock, by fads, materialism, by advertising.
They’ve got business to take care of, answers that don’t require a personal physical commitment, and they’re in pursuit of that elusive dream just around the corner, maybe even the fame and recognition that must surely be their due.
They might miss a call on that cellphone that has become a permanent appendage of their independent, free thinking, in the know self.
There might even be an email in the box that if it isn’t read and responded to immediately the wrong conclusion could be drawn, the Earth’s axis could shift, or fragile feelings of the sender could give rise to self doubt. Who knows, that email might disappear somehow if not “received” in a timely fashion.
They’re connected and the importance of being connected cannot be minimized, like one of those hybrid cars, if they aren’t routinely plugged in they haven’t the ability to function.
It is an intravenous transfusion of artificial life, an ekg verifying that indeed a pulse exists, breath is drawn, the mind functions even if the body is sedentary, inert, or reduced to a state of conditioned responses as dictates of the clock, the cellphone, habituation, and all that gadgetry.
Up in the morning and turn all the gadgets on, go to bed at night and the last thing to do is turn all the gadgets off, or preferably put them to sleep so they’ll respond quicker upon rising.
Severing the umbilical is fraught with peril, too unsettling to contemplate, even if only temporarily – an injustice that the body requires sleep to cleanse itself of toxins, and yet does not cleanse itself of obsession or addiction without assistance, without intervention.
You’re either connected during your every waking moment or you’re something of an anachronism, a relic out of time out of place.
Google glasses or the completely inane “Dick Tracey” iWatch or Google’s equivalent? What actually prompts a person to purchase one of these and then go to invent uses for them while cobbling together a list that defensively seeks to extoll their virtues.
Are there benefits in what is referred to as modern life? Of course there are, but the position should be – own who you are and what you possess rather than being owned and possessed.
Civilization as we know it has become synonymous with materialism and acquisition, (not to mention dependency) the more the better – if it’s the very latest fad, model, gadget, vehicle, or anything else even better yet – but the cost of such a reality cannot be measured solely in currency.
Slavery is alive and well, the difference now is that people rush headlong to enslave themselves – they aren’t sold into slavery, they sell themselves, and once having done so complain about the shackles and oh the injustice of it all while proposing solutions they fail to embrace themselves.
I actually know people who contend that slavery wasn’t all that bad, that slaves were well tended as the investment they represented was comparable to a farmer investing in farming equipment.
They of course won’t repeat this in public or the favorite venues they troll, and will spend endless hours searching for anything, any shared opinion they consider verifies and compliments their own, a proof of a perceived superior intellect and insight.
Whether they would ever admit it or not it is the same ideology shared by white supremacy groups irregardless of how they verbally couch it.
Problem is tractors and the like don’t have families to be torn from, or nerves and emotions wounds are inflicted upon.
Granted tractors are sold and resold and their existence is one of servitude but nothing mitigates the evil of slavery…nothing, and only a profound ignorance would attempt to lessen that evil with talk of investments.
The reality of the world as we know it is that everyone is a slave to some degree or another, be it a debt slave, wage slave, or an obsession with materialism – seems to me people would seek to remove as many of the shackles as they can.
I fully expect there are those who will read these words and take issue with the premise of this particular blog, I don’t have a problem with that because I believe in what I have said, but in the midst of doing so maybe they should ponder the nature of their existence, if there’s anything they can do to lessen their personal enslavement, create a better more user friendly environment for themselves, evaluate what is really important and what is not, and having done so cultivate and nurture those areas.
People have an innate desire to be rewarded for their efforts, a desire that often times manifests itself in “splurging” – that extra piece of calorie laden pie or cake, or replacing some gadget that functions as it should and only a year old because something new has been released.
At times this desire becomes an obsession seeking the “reward” of attention, they want to, have to be seen, heard, and applauded or something is wrong with the world, and they will go to any extreme to garner it – clothes, costumes, affectations, the loud voice when in a public venue to insure others hear, that ridiculous sqawking Macaw or snake on the shoulder. The unabashed religion of Meism, the fastest growing belief system extant.
I’m a believer in the reward system – children, spouses, family and friends should be rewarded for who they are, what they do, and what they bring to the relationship table and home fires, but it is a mistake to believe rewards can only be material in nature.
Nothing is more meaningful than to give of oneself or giving in the midst of one’s own need.
All people have the right of expectations, whether they are realized or not is another story – the qualifier in my opinion is that expectations are reasonable rather than extravagant or selfish.
“We were making the future, and hardly any of us troubled to think what future we were making. And here it is!” H.G Wells