Saturday, July 16, 2011

Nature, Capitalism and the Universe

Donner Lake
Spending time away from the rat-race alters perception in a myriad of ways. Nature is something I didn't see much of as a child. It was at least a two hour drive from where we lived to the countryside with its farms, rivers and forests. The urban landscape was mostly all I knew and, to me, it went on forever. Now I understand why people who incorporate religion into their lives are most often rural folks. Feeling small in the presence of something large and majestic is daunting and reassuring. Like some of the acid trips of my past, the natural world can be a keyhole opening into another reality, a glimpse at something more.

However I interpret it, the experience makes it harder to get back to the daily grind of working. For me, job-related activity is a stretch even in the best of times, as it is for anyone who must repress creative desire to economic necessity.

I was on the reference desk with a colleague who has an artist friend employed to create video games. "What a great job, she must love it!" was my reflexive response. She replied simply, "She loves it the way you love your job, you love your job, don't you?"

And I do enjoy my job, especially compared to some of the other things I have done to earn a living. But that doesn't change the fact that would rather be writing, creating my own work. Thus, the difficult march to the proverbial different drummer. It's a struggle I can't win. My more committed co-workers do not like my emotional distance from my work and bosses do not approve of my "attitude." These factors may prevent me from scaling the ladder of success, but not from acquiring great  material for a story.

So, I have returned with a thud from the Eastern Sierras. Next week I will be back at work, a changed being, someone who has been to the mountaintop, taken nourishment there, and come back with a souvenir both precious and intangible; the sense that the all-consuming, merry-go-round of daily life is only a fraction of a universe that is beautiful, vast, boundless and unfathomable.