Friday, October 8, 2021

Real Places

Hiking the foothills of the Rocky Mountains I found my very being especially present in this amazing space. Below me lay a glacial lake glinting azure in the afternoon sun. Two amazing yet sadly dwindling glaciers melting in the Autumn of the Anthropocene Era stretch beside me. And in the distance snow-capped summits soar several thousand feet higher than me yet loom deceptively at eye level.

What also looms in the moment is the importance we give to the heres and theres of where we have been. Many times I have recounted with friends the countries, states and cities that we have visited, alongside storied memories. In fact, Idaho and Oregon remain in my unvisited state list and these two names beckon me to visit them, and yet they are just names of boundaried land. These expansive places were roamed upon by native peoples for millennia past and by native sentient creatures for eons well before a relatively ephemeral United States claimed and configured them into surveyed property entities. 

My point is that places like Idaho and Oregon (and Colorado), beautiful as the land within their drawn lines may be, are abstract concepts that sometimes align with mountain ridges, river centerlines and ocean edges. Might we forget for a moment that humans attempt to force ownership upon every square foot of the Earth? Might we envision the more interesting demarcations that Nature has drawn without any consultation of the local zoning departments?

Earth is the most obvious discreet place that transcends human labeling. Even though a handful of humans have escaped her gravity, the global environment is one planetary place all Earthlings call home.

Next, one might suggest Continents as definitive places here on Earth; however, they are but convenient manipulations of human perception. Better that we ascribe tectonic plates as the foremost geologic subdivisions. These sliding masses have discreet edges that diverge and converge, yet are locational entities that are ever more real than whimsical continents.  

Living spaces are another inherent, real location from the perspective of all Earthlings. Those places where conditions are right to support the various tapestries of life. These biomes are even more fluid than tectonic plates, shifting with the seasons and with sentient and instinctive territory movement. Human Earthlings wander with their chattel creatures anywhere they please, making us think twice about our evolutionary origins and the limits other Earthling species have in their long term survival.

Many other discreet, concrete places could be compiled. Elemental, matter phase, temperate, pressurized, photonic, radioactive, lunar influenced, seismic, et al. So many paradigms to overlook unless you are immersed in a particular scientific study or attentive to a momentary contemplation.  To be sure the variety of real places within Earth are indifferent to our human opinions. And yet the fact we can find those real places special, demonstrates our species is capable of recognizing beauty even when it doesn't rely on a connection to our self-perceived specialness--quite the ironic feeling.

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