Life is movement. The more life there is, the more flexibility there is. The more fluid you are, the more you are alive.
- Arnaud Desjardins
Floating, floating, what am I like?
Between earth and sky, a gull alone.
- Tu Fu
Ralph Waldo Emerson:
"Geoffrey draws on his boots to go through the woods, that his feet might be safer from the bite of snakes; Aaron never thinks of such a peril. In many years neither is harmed by such an accident. Yet it seems to me, that, with every precaution you take against such an evil, you put yourself into the power of this evil."
Andy Rooney from Out of My Mind.
Something I read in college keeps coming back to me and I can't remember the source. It was that ancient
Barry Lopez: an excerpt from his essay Cold Scapes.
Over several decades of travel, I have often met people who were profoundly intimate with the places in which they lived. Usually they were hunters, hunter-gatherers, subsistence farmers, or pastoralists, people who had to know precisely where they were, physically, all the particulars of it, if they were going to keep their preferred way of life intact. In conversation, I found the fine points they were attuned to fascinating, but more so the pattern of their knowledge, their skill at arranging myriad details in a pattern that could be recognized, remembered, and put to use. It is exhilarating to encounter knowledge this intimate. Most of us in the modern world have nothing to compare with it, except a working knowledge of the infrastructure of our own highly technical civilization. To see and appreciate, to be immersed for a lifetime in patterns that are not of your own making, that is a different order of things.
My guess would be that somebody someday will trace the roots of modern human loneliness to a loss of intimacy with place, to our many breaks with the physical Earth. We are not out there much anymore. Even when we are, we are often too quick to take things in. A member of the group who insists on lingering is "holding everyone else up." I think about this kind of detachment from the physical world frequently, because human beings, generally, seem to long for a specific place, a certain geography that gives them a sense of well-being.
When I was traveling regularly in the
- Barry Lopez