Friday, October 2, 2009

Containing Multitudes...


...full disclosure: though technically a native of the big city, where I lived until just before my fourth birthday, when the family moved to the country...which can’t be blamed for being so quickly and easily swallowed by intractable forces of urban blight, white flight, and omni-ravenous sprawl...I am, in the end, one of that peculiarly modern tribe often held up as representative of just about everything wrong with American life today...a suburbanite...

...though, given the state of lonely misery in which my formative suburban years were largely spent, at least I can attest to never having been a very good one...


...for a long time, identified as a country mouse...and a rather militant one, at that...at one point, living amidst the screaming multitudes with their noise, anger, fear, and madness exploding it seemed on every corner of Boston or San Francisco, wrote a short story describing the tall buildings as tombstones for the forests, meadows, and multitudinous life they replaced...concluding with an ominous yet, to my mind, optimistic rumbling...


...and, in time, did my best to get away...backpacked all over the Rockies and southwestern deserts, lived in cabins, trailers and tents...hiked the Appalachian Trail from Georgia to Maine....and all that was certainly good...the fresh air, the trees, and the peaceful feeling I still can get tromping along a trail through the woods...but there was always some element of escape in it...of needing to run away from people...dreaming, at my worst, of a day when I’d never have to see anybody, except on periodic supply runs...

...so, the gradual emergence of the city mouse came as a surprise...as, kicking back in northern Arizona, I found myself longing for live music, bookstores, museums, and that strangely vibrant feeling of walking-down-the-sidewalk, life’s machinery rushing by at a sometimes frightening pace on one side, tall, deep, and unmoving on the other...the dance of diversity and discord, with its near-infinite commingling and conflicts...of which, it must be confessed, I am an inextricable part...

14 comments:

Lumen et Aperio said...

Philly street art is quite breath-taking.

I think home, sometimes, is less a reflection of who you are and more a statement of what you need at a particular time.

Eco Yogini said...

you know- i completely relate with everything here- grew up in a tiny village of 500, lived in three cities... and now love.hate the city. sigh.

love the pictures! :)

Bob Weisenberg said...

Beautifully written.

Over at ten year period I made frequent visits to NYC to visit my three kids, all of whom chose to got to college there.

I walked everywhere and came to love it for all the reasons you so evocatively describe above.

Now my two sons are musicians in Brooklyn, so I'm starting to get to know that great part of NYC.

Thanks.

Bob Weisenberg
YogaDemystified.com

Brooks Hall said...

Nice, Dr. Jay! I guess there is a time and place for everything!

plainolebob said...

Dr.Jay,
ain't nuthin new here fer me in thet i've felt the a way all my life. hell, even here got more traffic then i like,lol.
very nice read.

Sidhe said...

I like, great pics.

earthtoholly said...

Your earlier travels are pretty amazing, drjay.

I'm that city mouse, but could do without seeing anyone.

Great pics of the murals...and you happened to have caught a rowing shell there...very nice.

the walking man said...

I think you have traveled enough to find comfort in the element that you find your self in. It isn't so much a matter of place but perspective eh?

Sashindoubutsu said...

Hi, nice pictures, they brought us to places you traveled.

Melinda said...

Hey Jay,

I have a deep and irrational fear of the suburbs--I really do. They scare the bejesus out of me.

I relate to what you write so much--as I have said a few times previously, I feel that we shared a very similar path for much of our lives. Like you, I never felt comfortable growing up where I did--I always felt so out of place. It was only when I moved to San Francisco that I felt completely at home--and I'll never forget the sensation I had at the time--it was just a huge relief. It was finally "I am home." And since then, I have loved SF like you love another person--my love is that intense for the city.

I loved this post--it was eloquently and profoundly beautiful.

Melinda

Bob Weisenberg said...

Hi, Melinda.

Easy city to love, San Francisco! I spent seven years in the Bay Area growing up, and it's still my favorite place on earth.

Bob Weisenberg
YogaDemystified.com

Lana Gramlich said...

The grass is always greener, I s'pose. I think I'd be perfectly happy never visiting a city again, though. So far so good.

Lydia said...

This reminds me of Whitman. Love it.

Jillian Livingston said...

I found you over at The Conservative Buddhist's website.

This is the time of year when I need a NYC fix. Once can feel boxed in living in the mountains.

Thank you for your city descriptions. Glad to have found you!