Friday, July 22, 2011

Out of Time

I guess it's natural for each of us to be comfortable in our own time. The world we grew up in is our baseline, and every year brings changes that make everything feel a tiny bit less natural. I think this is the main reason old people are cranky all the time. That, and the sore everything. Middle age has brought  not only an acceptance of mortality, but an appreciation of it as well.

There are usually a handful of changes that we treasure, though frankly I'm having a hard time coming up with any at the moment. It seems every advance during my life has been a double-edged sword, trading diversion, minor convenience, or economic efficiency for a more complicated life and erosion of our environment. I make my living from technology, and I'm not sure how we watched television before there was Google, but there are days I would gladly trade the whole thing for forty acres and a mule.

On the other hand, many of us long for some aspects of life that may have passed away before we were born*. Jimmy Buffett apparently wanted to be a pirate, and not the Somali kind. Mine is a world with space for solitude. The thought of walking for weeks without meeting another person carries great appeal for me at times.

There is a park in Northwest Arkansas that has been my favorite place in the world since I was a child. Part of what I liked about it then was that it was quite inaccessible and not very well known, so there were few visitors. The trails were long, mostly deserted, and so quiet you could hear gentle breezes blowing down the valley. It was a place where you instinctively spoke quietly.

There is an interstate within a few miles of it now, and it is covered with tourists during the summer, but last time I was there during winter it was still pretty deserted. I spend a few days there as often as I can, which usually ends up being only about once a decade. I walk, and climb, and sit, and walk some more. I don't exactly feel like I'm alone in the world, but I usually do get a chance to remember what it's like to be a human being.

Maybe this fall will be time for another visit. I've been looking for an excuse to buy a new pair of hiking boots, and I could certainly use the quiet. Did I mention there is no cell coverage, no television, and only one phone in the entire park?

*How else do you explain Renaissance fairs? And NASCAR?


  1. would this be - Devil's Den? Ahhh...lovely spot...did I tell you that as a drug-crazed 19 yr old, I was in a group camping there and found an awesome cave with antique liquor bottles and a rusty still in it?? No idea how we found it - where it was - and how we got back to our campsite in the middle of the night...'course that was in a rowdy pack so you would not have you know how I feel about solitude and humankind...

    My brother told dad once (the ultimate grumpy old man) that if someone told dad they had a new invention out called 'fire' he'd reply it was a load of rubbage and in HIS day raw meat was good enough for anyone...

    think I'll go take a pain pill now and ignore the indignities of old age...geez K-rowe, go see a movie and decompress...

  2. Agree wholeheartedly about the need for solitude in natural surroundings. Isn't it strange that to remember what it's like to be human being (apparently a social animal), some of us need to get as far away from other humans as possible?