I’ve made it as far as the Catskills, now. In so doing I’ve come to recognize a strong bias of mine–one many of you may have already detected.
I think overpopulation is a serious problem.
That makes it very hard for me to recognize some of the more forgiving aspects of the world around us. For example, because the back roads here are virtually all little more than driveways accessing the thousands of two and three acre plots that line them, and because I don’t know the routes the locals doubtlessly do to the innards of the remaining natural habitat in which these communities lie, I have a very hard time recognizing the “natural” in them. I then tend to discount the appreciation for nature that the locals have by dismissing it as if it were somehow illegitimate.
The opposite, I’m sure, is more accurate. By virtue of how much of the country out here is completely destroyed by our machines–by us–I act as if residents of urban areas can’t possibly see what it is they’re killing. I’ve always sort of assumed Joni Mitchell didn’t really understand what she was saying when she sang “they paved Paradise and put up a parking lot.” Truth is, she probably comprehended it far better than I. I have to travel to see the lot. She had to travel to see Paradise (A guess, I don’t know Joni’s history). But that, too, is an oversimplification, for I’ve plenty of lots to look at if I wish.
Yet, whether you see it or not apparently doesn’t stop it.
I’m writing this as I sit beside a nice river that flows, now, mainly to New York City. Here, above the last reservoir before it hits the city’s extended plumbing network, it’s gorgeous. In a few days or weeks it will doubtlessly be heartbreakingly so, for the colors should begin soon. The sound of the highway behind me is only slightly more noticeable than most river access points a traveler like myself would find near my Tahoe home, and I’m sure the locals know of many truly idyllic spots.
Here, today, the horror of my Vision borders on overtaking me. Seeing this vast array of life serves as a strong stimulus to see it all dead once again, as I did for an instant or two in 1986. The memory seemingly has the force of a tidal wave. I have to struggle to contain it.
No wonder I have so much difficulty showing people why I grieve so, why I am so obsessed, how large the impending tragedy will be. How bizarre it is that so much evidence of life should trigger in me such fear of exactly its opposite. No wonder people worry about my sanity.
Yet I see a world which seems insanely bent on staying the course when it can see the course’s eventual outcome as well, logically, as I did, literally. The mind versus the heart. That’s what I think the difference is. For others, it is hard to understand me because their understanding is, at most, intellectual. Mine is visceral.
Maybe you can at least understand a little better why I truly hate this Vision.
How, though, to bring you, who have not–do not–want not–will not–accept it as fact, as I must from having seen it as a reality, if only for a few seconds? How to make you recognize that it is the loss of the life that is the real tragedy I foresaw and therefore always focus on? Securing a place for life itself is the issue. Throwing the lot of all living things in with ours, which seems to be how we can best comprehend it, may not be the only thing that is important, but it is the most important thing.
Sorry. I’m obsessing again, aren’t I.
Okay, let’s try to be a bit more here in the present. I’m planning to kick back a bit, cut my library time down to an hour or two a day, and see if I can catch the colors in the Adirondacks before I have to start serious track making for the appointments in the Midwest. I’m resolved to even get the camera out from under the bed today. Maybe we can do a slide show when I get back, or something. I promise to be less obsessive then. It’s much easier when I’ve insulated myself from it with a photograph or a movie, or the printed word. Best to bury most of the reality below the surface and let only a bit show. Otherwise you frighten people off.
Whoops! Doing it again. Got to go.
P.S.: After writing above I stumbled onto a small town, Phoenicia, that reminds me so much of my hometown back in the 50’s that it’s spooky. Everybody greets everybody by name and asks about the family. It’s like Lake Woebegone, for god’s sake. Only difference is that their spirit seems to be far more aware of nature’s value than ours ever was back in the old days.