Thursday, July 13, 2006

Twenty-One Months

We went to El Paso for Xtina's family reunion with a stop-over in Phoenix, Arizona. We barely had time to yawn and pop our ears before we were suddenly landing again. I didn't mind it. I've grown to fear flying. It's not so easy to give up your life to the unknown mechanical god when you have people in your life that you truly cherish. When I was younger I laughed when the pilot bounced twice on the landing in San Diego, now my heart freezes for a second every time the plane shudders to earth. For a long time I didn't care about my life. It hardly seemed worth it when you're so miserable. What was it that could have possibly cause so much resentment? I'm still trying to figure that out. But when you have the heart of a child beat against your chest as the rise of flight leaves your chi behind and his eyes fill with wonder as the landscape slips away into miniature toy mode, you can't help but squeeze him a little tighter and pray to whatever force that causes universal flow to allow these two chests to continue going in and out together.

Just a little more time, please.

Although this was not Lucas' first time in a plane, it was the first time that he was aware of this incredible astonishment of the 20th century. Yes, my little man, no matter what you may have already known before entering this life, humanity has pushed beyond the clouds. We've hardly learned what it means to respect each other but the quest for flight is beyond a century behind us now. Let's hope that we can continue to advance in many, many wonderful ways. Well, because Lucas is now a little man he was mesmerized by this amazing feat. He stared wide-eyed out our tiny window until we'd almost reached the desert (and the descent as well) and, I have to admit, his curiosity was catching. I remembered what it felt like to see the world so small before. The kid in me swelled and jumped out of my skin.

The Earth is a majestic place. You really notice it up there. I always laugh trying to imagine myself inside a plane when I look up from the ground. There can't be people in there! How do they get so small? The same thing happens when you're up there and you look down at all the cars and houses and mountains and trees. Everything's so ant-like. The cars even zoom along their twisted trail, people doing their ant-like activity; foraging, going to work, trying to make it home alive so that they may rest and do it all over again. But as the plane began to ascend over the rural landscape and human activity started to vanish I began to see it! The mask was slowly removed. The earth is truly organic. It's a natural amalgamative of time and influence and ripening and nowhere does it travel a straight line...except all the places inhabited by humans.

I was shocked by what I saw! All the structures of civilization were completely in discord with the soul of the Earth. We do not understand what it means to be connected to the environment around us. We have torn it apart and created our own misery! We have gouged out straight edges and rigid boxes and put our alien landscape atop the natural order of this world! We have cut it up and dug it out and smooshed it flat and paved over all of it! We are the cancer! We are destroying this planet!

From high above the Earth I heard it whimper.

It was frightening. It's disconcerting to find out that you've lived your entire life in exact opposition to nature. I never realized or maybe that's all I've ever realized (which one is more empowering?). Is it possible to be ignorant of something so deeply profound and still be happy? I'm not sure. I know there are quite a few people out there who aren't happy. I know that sometimes I am one of them. I know that when I think about all the ways our societies work against the natural beauty of life, it never makes me feel good. I know that when I saw the human influence upon the face of this world, it made my heart turn in disgust. It made me despise myself a bit more.

But I had his heart upon mine, and he saw all the beauty and ugliness drifting below us too and it was mesmerizing. I felt what it meant to be young again, so small and so hopeful and I found a place in my soul that opened and wished only to make a better life for him. I don't exactly know how to overcome the horrible oddity that has become humanity. Part of me wants to run, sell everything and buy a plot somewhere, build a natural habitat where we can live off the land and become one with the environment. Maybe we'll do that some day and maybe Lucas will hate it, but I will influence him to appreciate the Earth. As he grows I'll do whatever I can to show him the beauty that exists everywhere. You just have to peel back the mask a little.

Lucas already has so much fortune, but we still need to challenge ourselves to become better human beings. One of the ways that we need to do that is by respecting our environment, starting right where we are...even if it is paved over.

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