Quiet Dissolution

This past month I’ve focused on the importance of the places where we live in making who we are.  It’s subtle if you live in a busy, noisy environment like a city or even a heavily populated suburb.  When you are lucky enough to live with lots of open space around you, the influence of the land, sky and waters – the Living Dome – is tangible and pressing.

The advent of a relatively new environment of virtual space creates another layer of human voices, ideas, visions, sounds, and computations that tamp the living presence of the natural world. Some humans now prefer virtual representations of the Living Dome that blankets the planet, sustaining all life.

What does physical or representational separation from the source of life and imagination mean for coming generations?

So much in American life has has a corrupting influence on our requirements for social order.  We live in a culture that has lost its memory.  Very little in the specific shapes and traditions of our grandparents’ pasts instructs us how to live today. ~ Gretel Ehrlich from The Solace of Open Spaces, Chapter “To Live in Two Worlds”

What do you think?

2 thoughts on “Quiet Dissolution

  1. I notice how much I crave stillness and quiet now; I don’t think it is my age. Is it possible that I am an old timer, one of Earth’s inhabitants who remembers the importance of the peace that is found in a slower pace, the connection to Source that can only be discovered in a natural environment, far from the virtual universe that is buzzing with chatter; i.e., unplugged? I saw on the news the other day that someone did a study and found that the average person is willing to wait only 250 milliseconds for an answer from Google! What an impatient society. When the internet goes down we complain vehemently. It happened to me the other day when it was off for around six hours. Though I was initially angry, and feeling a bit helpless since I make my living working on the internet, I found that it was a forced respite from that busy universal highway. What is missing in our culture now is balance. Technology has afforded us wondrous abilities, but it feels to me like I am on a runaway train. It is my hope that this necessity for balance between exposure to natural places and virtual reality will be taught to our kids. This idea of being “unplugged” reminds me of Thoreau when he sat in a doorway all day, and heard nothing but nature save for the sound of a passing wagon. Maybe Walden should be necessary reading before boarding the train to virtual reality, so at least our kids will have that thread of memory of the importance of connecting to the soil beneath their feet. In fact, I think a class in 1) Responsibilty (good Earth stewardship), 2) Connection (to natural places and the knowledge that comes with our own intuition), and 3) Balance (between actual and virtual realities) might be a great required course for all students so that we can utilize the exponential growth of technology in a way that doesn’t contribute to a stressed out society with screwed up values! I mean, when computers and cell phones are out, all we have is each other and the dirt beneath our feet.

  2. Thank you for this beautiful reflection. There is a little surge of interest in “outdoor education” and EE – environmental education now. Under the Bush (W) administration, these experiential classes were dumped for No Child Left Behind. After some years of putting our kids through a forced march to learn standards based information many realized we had overshot and need to regain time to reflect, to imagine, and to rest. Not much of that has happened however. That prompted the No Child Left in the Woods movement led by Richard Louv. See this link: http://richardlouv.com/.

    **Buildings in walkable, bike-able communities could have front porches again if we press our city and county commissioners to call for architecture that reconnects us to nature and each other. I am with you: I love a big old porch with swings and wicker chairs, fans overhead, and a big glass of iced tea.

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