Thursday, September 26, 2019

What's the Rush?

The calendar says September, but the thermometer still says August loud and clear.

The fields that aren’t torn up with pipeline excavation or well pads are filled with the wildflower known as “snow on the prairie.” Look for it at dusk when the cooling illusion is most beautiful.

Beauty is a necessary thing, I’ve decided. And for us—human beings—it is a potent medicine. Even more than that, its absence creates a slow growing dis-ease. 

Don’t you feel it, this pervasive uneasiness?

Everywhere we drive now in Fayette County, we feel the land hurting. Cows huddle under shade trees at 8AM. The sere pasture next door wears a painful slash, fifteen feet deep, and beside it piles of spoil. At the bottom of the trench, there are lengths of pipe, newly set. The men nearby are working in 100 degree weather and relentless sun. Who will do that work if the temperature keeps rising?

The junkiness that gas exploration, industrial development and transient retail bring to our peaceful landscape isn’t given a price tag. But it exacts a cost. 

Recent reports confirm a large increase in anxiety-related illness since 2016. But we already knew that, didn’t we?

Abruptly, it seems, we find so little to rely on. The people and routines we thought worked well have vanished.

Business rushes to replace them with the latest technology. My favorite is the portable card reader that malfunctions half the time.

We get pressure from our banks—the big ones, that is—to pay bills online, in interfaces that buck and pitch on a good day. Or, if that’s too complicated, you can just scan your check. Hmm. And wait for the massive data breach that’s sure to come?

Does that help us feel secure and comfy?

The Baby Boomers are aging in a large indigestible lump throughout the economy. Precisely at the time when reflexes are slowing and eyes are developing “issues,” business decides to speed things up. Put half their operations and all their communications on a screen in 8 point type.

My car dealership outside Houston just fired (or reassigned) the service manager with whom I’ve worked for fifteen years. “All the old guys are gone,” I said to the very young man who took his place. “Yeah,” he said cheerfully. “Too slow.”

What’s the hurry, folks? What’s this finish line we’re so eager to reach?

The other evening I came out of a meeting into an extraordinary sky. The meeting room sits on a hill. When I stepped out of the door, I felt space open in front of me and above it sky, framed in tall trees.
Shades of soft blue and pink rose beside a dappled gray thunderhead, and at the top, just off center, the slice of new moon. What my son used to call a “fingernail moon.”

I was alone for a few moments while Beauty flowed into me. Time slowed.

We are so starved for Beauty. Our souls are pinched by its absence. With every desecration of our landscape, of the scenic charm that brings visitors to patronize our businesses, our souls shrivel a little.

You may not like that I use the word, “soul,” but what else is it that blooms inside me when I allow a field of flowering snow in September or a sunset sky to fill me up? What else can it be?

I can tell you this: it is the same part of us that dies a little in the presence of grief. 

There’s so much cause for grief around us, now. Horrific wrecks on the roadways, mass shootings, children and parents damaged by hurricanes and border policies, landowners losing the peaceful enjoyment of their land for the rest of their lives. 

In a broader view, artic ice melts, the Amazon rainforest burns. The globe warms, bringing with it the prospect of mass extinctions.

Grief is a logical response.

We are bequeathing the Age of Loneliness to our children.

Why are we in such a hurry to get there?

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