Tuesday, November 10

The Outdoor Contradiction

The back of the photo says September 2003, so I'm assuming this date is accurate.

It's difficult for me to incorporate the various aspects of myself, and my feelings about the outdoors are no exception. I have no desire to live in nature. We always looked down on kids that lived in the "boonies" because they couldn't hang out with us unless some parent wanted to drive, and we all knew that adults were lazy.

On the other hand, I feel that places like the beach and the park add something intangible to my life. (Not to mention that the wiggle demons that live in my kids are exorcised, if not pleasant, when outside. Justin told me, "Light melts monsters".)

The easy answer is to live in civilization and visit the outdoors, but this has its own disconnect, because I'm driving for an hour or more, belching toxic fumes out of my tailpipe as I incinerate my own allotment of dead dinosaurs.

Also, whenever I travel I'm frequently aware of the parasitic nature of tourism, and the locals all have the same bleak countenance that says, "If you stop coming here, we won't survive." Yosemite, and all of the hooplah that goes along with it, would disappear tomorrow if rubberneckers in khakis, carrying disposable cameras, decided that big freaking rocks are lame.

I have no illusion that the park I take the kids to was constructed by people with heavy machinery, that every inch of dirt was leveled to some landscaper's vision of nature. Similarly, the beach is a bunch of crunched up rocks, and yet, when I turn around 180 degrees from the ocean, I see millions of dollars worth of mansions hanging off the cliffs, out of place, like penguins in the sky.

Along these same lines, it's pretty apparent to me that "the outdoors" is synonymous with a patch of land that has no use. You can't grow corn on a granite mountainside, and you can't build apartments on the ocean. So humdrum valleys become our living spaces, while we glorify living in a forest.

I don't have an answer either, because of books like this, which made me realize that cities are inherently more environmentally friendly because all of the people are concentrated away from nature. Take man out of nature, and nature is saved. Go figure.

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