My wife said, “camping is a tradition in my family.” It was a tradition in everyone’s family until we invented the house. -Jim Gaffigan Plainly put, I have never honestly felt a connection to a place. Sometimes this comes as a surprise to others, but it has ceased to be a surprise to me. My …
Continue reading “What Exactly Am I Doing?”
My wife said, “camping is a tradition in my family.” It was a tradition in everyone’s family until we invented the house.
Plainly put, I have never honestly felt a connection to a place. Sometimes this comes as a surprise to others, but it has ceased to be a surprise to me. My upbringing can best be described as transient, moving frequently, sometimes dramatically, to which the child me was reasonably apathetic to. Adult me is much more aware of the damages it produced, and also the bittersweet understanding of why it was caused. Perhaps I will return to the causes later, but for now, I will take a gentle left down a gravel road towards where my understanding is at now.
First, there was a childhood experience that should have left profound and positive impacts on my psyche. For three years we lived on the side of a mountain, in a secluded forest, with an enormous pond just fifty feet from our house. I was homeschooled there, and so I could spend most of my days freely exploring, swimming in crystal clear waters, and making forts to my heart’s content. And I did just that. I was living a boyhood dream, and in some ways, I was living my own boyhood dream. So what happened? Where did this emotional connection go? Why hasn’t it left a lasting impression on me? All valid questions. I believe that the problems I have in connecting to place are related to the experiences I have had in life. The positive childhood experiences were overwhelmed and smothered by the negative childhood experiences, and I am left with an emotional void. This void has made it challenging to generate genuine feelings of connectedness, and I have spent a considerable amount of effort trying to rectify this disconnect.
At first, I thought that my experience was just that, my experience, but I have recently returned from a trip to India, and I must say, for a traditional Western environmentalist, India is an enigma. Much of the dialogue I have experienced in the West just don’t seem to apply to India. Many of them are vegetarian, life is sacred, and Sannyasa (a type of Asceticism) and self-denial are still fairly apparent. Yet I witnessed a cow (which are revered in India) licking rotten fruit juice from a discarded bag on the side of a road. I watched a holy ritual performed on the banks of the sacred Ganges, which also happens to be the most polluted river in the world. Varanasi, the holiest city for Hindus, looks like a nuclear wasteland, with air pollution sitting like spring fog the entire time we were there. It was as stunning as it was perplexing, and I was left with a feeling that maybe the process I am going through can have a place in the universal discourse somewhere.
In some ways then, I think I am in a good position. I am not fighting to convince the world that the potentially apocalyptic behaviours need to change before it’s too late. I am not trying to convince the world they need to care about environmental issues. I am trying to convince myself. I am not struggling to figure out why there is a disconnect between nature and civilization, I am struggling to figure out why I want to care but don’t. And if this post is any indication, I plan on tackling these issues honestly, and maybe even openly, with the hope that if I do discover something, that something will be genuine.