Monthly Archives: January 2013

Hatred of City Parks

I really hate city parks. Though they seem like a good idea on the surface, further inspection reveals that they are the antithesis of what our species, or any species, truly needs. Don’t get me wrong, I do appreciate the protection afforded what little is left of the natural world. However, I despise the idea that these little islands of nature be protected whilst we allow industry and “progress” to destroy the true wilderness.

I am hiking with my lab, Chianti, through South Mountain Park in the heart of Phoenix, AZ. We started early in the hope of achieving solitude and silence. It started peacefully enough. It was only once we’d begun to rise above the valley that I heard the noise. As we climbed, our peace was gradually eroded by the rising cacophony of airplanes, automobiles, barking dogs, horns, traffic, factories, whirring electrical cables, and engines clashing together in a flash of unnatural white noise; the eerie symphony of industry, progress; the sound of impending death.

Like the smog that smothers this valley, the pollutant cannot be witnessed by those within the belly of the beast. Atop these desert mountain peaks, where one would expect to hear the sound of solitude, one is instead confronted by the incessant howling of the gates of hell. I desperately need to get off of this cursed mountain, out of this valley, and into the arms of the deep mountain wilderness. Until then I will have to invest in some ear plugs to couple with these smog filtering sunglasses.

As we make our way back to the demon valley we are confronted by a well meaning but under informed park steward chastising us for cross-cutting out of bounds of the established trail. I somehow resist the urge to remove his voice-box and simply apologize for our transgression instead. I can’t blame the dog; she is only doing what comes naturally. As we walk away I consider to myself the problem of our eroding natural world. I strongly suspect that this erosion has more to do with the encroachment of housing, industry, mining, nuclear reactors, the Chamber of Commerce, the BLM, and “progress” than with my habitual cross-trail cutting.

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We are not separate

I’ve just completed the Monkey Wrench Gang and am now working my way through Hayduke Lives! Astonishingly I have only recently discovered the writing of this lone visionary, Edward Abbey; this Cactus Ed. I love it when life thrusts upon me a wonderful treasure that had somehow been left undiscovered.

While reading the wise words of Cactus Ed, as when I read Daniel Quinn for the first time, It has occurred to me that we; mankind, homo-sapiens, in other words, you and me, we are not separate from this flying globe of rock, water, and flame on which we reside. Our Judeo-Christian mythology tries to tell us that we are not of this world but that we are separate, above it, beyond it. Utter nonsense. We are no more separate from the soil under our feet and the water in our gut than our colon is from the grey matter in our heads. Every part of the body comprises the whole. Every creature walking, crawling, slithering, hopping, flying above or below the earths soil, comprises the whole. We are the planet, the planet is us. Why do so many of us miss this fact? Why are we so anxious to remove ourselves from it?

With the exception of only a very few, none of us will ever be separated from this earth. We can briefly fly above the rock but we can never really tread outside this corporeal realm. Our very lives, our souls, are dependent on it. In the words of Don Henley, “You can check out but you can never leave.” And why would we want to? We are of the earth, by the earth and for the earth. As much as we try and fight it we shall one day return to the dust, the muck, the mud from whence we came. So why do we fight it? Why do we constantly strive to separate ourselves from the essence of what we are?

At the heart of this quest for separation, is our search for a meaning to life. Why does there have to be a meaning to life? Can we not just be? Can we “stand for what we stand upon”?

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