Right now I am wearing tie dye and counting down the days on my fingers. I have about sixteen days left in this strange land they call Texas. I have found incongruous beauty, bestial order, paradoxes and poetry.
My first morning in Dallas, I took a walk with the rising sun. I did not then know the land. I began walking, unsure where I’d end up. I traveled a ways, and came to the end of the sidewalk. There was a puddle of standing water reflecting the stop sign. Ahead cars zipped by. Beyond, mighty towering highways criss-crossed each other. I recall gawking and snapping a photo, undone with wonder.
Those were days when things were fresh. I had not yet idled in traffic on those celestial ramps, slowed by the industrious toil of the workers in orange hats and vests who are dispatched day and night to reshape our countryside. I had not yet wept at the sight of those young and old without vehicles, darting across busy motorways. I had not yet seen the floods caused because there is little exposed land left to lap up the rain. I had not seen the mountain of garbage where they pile up and bury the things we throw out. I had not yet grown accustomed to the sight of the yellow mechanical beasts that disembowel the hills. I had not then wondered how the earth would bear fruit when she is entombed in a shroud of impenetrable concrete.
No, I had not at that time begun to think about the use of land or the effects of industry and mass production and consumption and the media’s role in feeding capitalism’s frenzy for economic growth or colonialism and privatization and commodification and oppression and oil and gas and coal and electricity and “clean energy” and mining for precious metals and species going extinct and pollution and water being made undrinkable and war and genocide and infanticide and hypocrisy and ignorance and fear and stoking terror and bigotry and above all else exploittion and oppression. I had not opened my eyes back then.
No, I was still blind. I still am blind. Sure I have whole notebooks of theories and solutions, but they’re all built on air. I have no knowledge but what stray bits I have plucked from half-read books. No, I am far from well-versed. Rather, I may say I am aware of certain issues. The practicalities of dealing with bureaucracy and the legislative process and organization and systemic change–these things are a mystery to me.
I have so far been incubating with like-minded individuals. They have nourished me and cared for me. I have been growing in spurts, stretching inside my shell. I have extracted all the nutrition I can from here. I began to feel constricted within these round walls. I could try to stay longer, but something in my very bones is calling me to break out and try. My down, still wet and slimy now, will dry and puff in the wind. I will grow strong on worms and grubs. I will learn my own sweet song. Someday I will grow feathers, and then I will sail with the wind.
I wonder where it will carry me. I dream of distant mountaintops, of farmers in foggy valleys, of children in rags laughing and playing. Always close behind are the bloodthirsty jaws of industry. I dream of land spread far before me, I dream of trees and bushes pregant with fruit. I dream of the soft bleats of sheep, and the gentle cluck of chickens in the early morning. I dream I’m working in the sun, sweating and aching and tired and thirsty. I dream of seeing the fruit of my labor. I dream of children running barefoot, splashing and collecting berries and dozing under trees. I don’t know if this world still exists, or if I’ve cobbled it together from the pages of books.
Life is hard, even when it’s good. For all of our refrigeration and automobiles and roadways and planes and ships and abundance of possessions and sanitation and science and technology, how much has it added to our satisfaction with life? Somewhere back two hundred years ago, we decided that happiness lay in the accumulation of wealth and material comfort. Recently, pursuit of one’s desires has become a third corollary. What has this philosophy wrought? Why do we suffer astronomical rates of depression and anxiety? Why do our young and old commit suicide? Why do we feel unfulfilled? Why do we cram our minds full of frivolity and baubles that would better entertain an infant? Why do we suck on pipes and bottles and syringes? Where have our neighbors and friends and family gone? What is a family? What is a man? What is woman? Is anything certain, or is everything relative? We live in strange, strange times, my friends.