John Muir leaned his head over Yosemite Falls and rode avalanches down the glaciers that carved the valley.
I am running on a dangerous low of wildness. Walking along the Charles River on the East Coast Greenway in Newton, MA, it is not the wildness that overcomes me, but rather a bewilderment that anything is flowing here at all. I am bemused that this density of concrete and greed has not completely plugged or quenched the source.
Here at Walden Pond there is a ring of of rock posts with chains between and an informative placard identifying the site of Thoreau's cabin. We memorialize the man and the adventure because he challenged the confines of society and in so doing gained insight into nature and existence. The parking lot is not a half mile off and frequent signs along the way demand I keep to the trail.
How were the native able to live off the land for thousands of years without devastating the wilderness? Did they lack the technology to fully exploit the environment? Perhaps their cultures didn't value individual wealth, and perhaps their individuals didn't seek to possess as much as they possibley could. They might have taught their young about balance within nature. Now we send our young out into the world, perhaps off to college, first time away from home, and what do they do? Drink excessively. These days it is fairly commonplace for teenagers to die from alcohol poisoning. Simply lacking restraint, lacking the internal gauge that reports when enough has been consumed. The same character traits decorate Wall St. Native peoples could live for generations, satiated by the same land their ancestors had survived upon, but today's money–hoarding bankers take it upon themselves to acquire entire continents of wealth each quarter, and their elders reward them with showers of useless riches. To what end? It seems the youth are so bewildered by the ladder to nowhere most just try to escape it.
On the bus on a Tuesday morning, why is everyone's face drawn to a frown, a furrowed brow? Why is everyone fixated on their smartphone displays? What wisdom or entertainment could be held in an electronic palm that so overwhelms the majesty of the natural world out the window? Looking out I realize its pretty hard—and probably inappropriate—to feel awe at the sight of a strip mall.
Our poor cat. She had a chance. She was born into the the wild. But she was "rescued" and given to us as a gift. At birth she may have thought she would live a dignified life in nature, depending on her wits for survival. But now she just waits for us to spoon her food from a can, and she whines like hell if we don't let her in bed with us at night. Sometimes when the door to our apartment is open she makes a break for it. But she never gets farther than the stairs. Little does she know there's nothing else out there anyway, just streets and buildings all the way.
Our world view has a hard time processing the reality that if some is good more may be worse or that a little for everyone is better than a lot for me.
Out our kitchen window is a glowing red and yellow promise of McDonald's. If one isn't careful, the scent of french fry grease down the street will fill one to obesity. Hail the marvel of the self-steering marketplace.
Just blocks down the street I can always be warmed by the perpetually-congested spider-web intersection where road rage is as thick as the Big-Mac's special sauce, like the cholesterol that makes the routes of the heart impenetrable. To think that this great river of modern experience flows alongside the ancient Charles (new name, same perpetual flow) where at least 10ft on either bank up and down the entire length have been set aside to let nature thrive as it will. Its a great place for the mystical traveler to make camp or to find the relics of malt liquor enjoyed by the naughty homeless who neglected to practice the leave-no-trace methodology. If you pack that beer in, boys, you better pack the cans out! They call this the East Coast Greenway, Connecting Florida to Maine. It's marked the whole way with tiny placards depicting a green characture of a tree. I ride the train south to work and get out further down the greenway. Strikes me as a funny name and a funny place for a decal with a tree considering its just a busy, one-way street that parallels a bricked-in river with a rusty old shopping cart nestled in the shadows of the forty-story downtown. It's a shame that cart—that fallen soldier—can't still be used for buying stuff. I'd say the East Coast Greenway is getting in the way. The street could use a super-sizing.
We were camping in the Adirondack's, a deep, dark summer night, out on the lake beneath the great dusty arch of the Milky Way, looking at stars 3,000 light years away, burning suns with planets and life we've yet to find, and some fuck across the way blows off a load of fireworks, stupid red and blue fountains of noisy sparks shot from a cardboard canister labeled "Dragon Cat" or "Freedom Fighter". The assholes hooted and hollered and left their trash there for the next camper. How can the human anatomy continue to function when a pile of shit's been placed where the brain should be or with a billfold in place of a soul?
I jest, I jest. It is probably pretty obvious when I'm being facetious, but just for the record, here is how I really feel: the humans trapped within these steel and concrete pillars are largely crushed, mutilated, or burned alive long before the structures are brought violently to the ground.