I wrote this essay as an assignment for composition class at DSCC a year or two ago. I got it out the other day and re-read it thought it fit very well into this forum. It is very easy to get somewhat "sucked into" the two dimensional realm of television and cyberspace. This re-reminded me that there is so much more out there; much more that can be represented on a monitor..........
As children, the world is an enormous place full of mystery and wonder; every little thing has some significant purpose and place in the world. As we get older, however, the world seems a lot smaller and things aren't as significant. The furrballs on the floor that once captivated our facination and imagination become mere annoyances. The glowing glass tubes inside dad's old radio that once contained miniature orchestras are now also mere annoyances.
In a world of instant information, instant credit, and instant coffee, who has time anymore to ponder the unexplainable and toy with our imagination? If all the world is a stage as Shakespeare says, then why do we watch it through a little vacuum tube and miles of wire and electronic circuitry? All the world is indeed a stage which cannot possibly be compressed into a little plastic or wooden box in the corner of our living room. There are some things that just cannot be seen by remote control.
In my little corner of rural northwest Dyer county, Tennessee, where even a Siberian Eskimo might get a sense of isolation, one can find a view of the world that no form of electromagnetic wave could contain.
All around my house, wide, open fields stretch for miles across the landscape. A Connectcuit Yankee might find some unique beauty in them at just a passing glance, but for most of the natives here, they are simply a part of the monotonous scenery that make up the Mississippi river bottoms.
As a child, these wide open places, though a relatively small chunk of the globe, were my entire world. The world is a much larger place when your only mode of transportation is your feet. My brother and I would often spend entire days wandering across these fields in search of adventure. We never really had a plan as to the direction we were going, nor did we have any particular destination in mind. We would often just set out walking to see what we could find, which was often just a murky brown water hole or a soggy wet ditch with a lot of fishy smelling crawfish and annoying, buzzing, mud daubers flying around the gummy, black gumbo that seems to be a trademark of this area. But for a twelve and seven year old, this was adventure. It was an escape from reality and a break from the boring confinements of the television, bedroom, and backyard.
Now that I am older, the automobile has drastically made my world seem smaller and the constraints of responsibilities and time prevent me from re-exploring all those mysterious, distant lands that once beckoned us with the hiss of distance. These fields often become to me what they are to the average Missouri sightseer who wanders across the river on occasion. Once in a while, though, one can happen upon a place at an entirely different time of day and in a different frame of mind and find a whole new world, right in the heart of the old one.
I found myself within that different world one night while out driving around looking for a place to unwind from the wild and wooly world. Halfway down a dusty road in the middle of an old soybean field, I found myself in the heart of the country I grew up in. As I got out of my truck, though, I felt as if I were stepping out of a spaceship on a strange, unknown planet.
Just above the eastern horizon, the moon was beginnig to make its journey across the starry sky above. As it rose, it gave the surronding landscape a silvery, luminous glow. As I stood among the waist high soybeans, a cool, night breeze made them sway like waves on the ocean. The only annoyances were a few aggressive mosquitoes buzzing and biting at exposed flesh. A pink, hazy glow from the city of Dyersburg distorted the southeatern horizon a bit, but the sky above was still a deep, murky black with millions of flickering speckles of light in spite of the rising moon.
I stood awestruck by the mysterious beauty and deafining quiet that surrounded me, so I reached in my truck, put in a favorite cassette, and climbed onto the hood to lie down and stare into the abyss. Directly overhead stretched the luminous dust of the Milky Way, and to the west was the extremely bright speck known as the planet Venus. I imaginged I could feel the rotation of the Earth beneath me as mystic rhythms and the endless nothingness above captured my thoughts and carried me away.
As I lied in bewilderment at the vast, unimaginable depth of the universe above, I suddenly had an overwhelming sense of isolation and insignificance. I thought of the millions of invisible airwaves that splash across the sky and wondered who out there may be watching the all the wonderful feats of human civilization in a nerverending series of soundbites and video clips.
After an hour or so, the moon had risen to her perch at the top of the starry dome. As the music faded and the stars did likwise, I came back to Earth, retreated to my armchair, and opened that power window by remote control and returned to life in two dimensions. How beautiful.