Friday, October 17, 2008

Pride of Ownership


On my cool-down after the morning run I noticed an abandoned building. I've got something written that I could put in here, but I'm not sure it's ready, and I'm really not sure it's interesting or entertaining... Yet.

So I'm saving a place in the queue in case this ever comes together.

And maybe now is the time ...

Waking up early this morning was no problem at all. We tried to keep our internal clocks on Eastern time so we went to bed at a reasonable hour and we slept well with a great dinner in our bellies. When the alarm woke me at 6 AM all I needed to do was get my gear together and greet the sunrise.

I don’t hook myself up to an I-Pod or any other device when I run. I kinda like being able to hear the sounds of whatever is going on around me when I run. Besides, I usually have a song going through my head when I run anyway. It replays itself as I breathe, the melody and words kind of flowing in a sub-audible range and I can adjust the tempo to match my breathing or footsteps. Sometimes it’s a chord progression I made up and try to put words to when I’m at the piano. Sometimes I like the Doors. “Riders on the Storm” and “People are Strange” seem to fit my running style really well. Today it was the sound of corn and “Atomic” by Blondie. “Atomic” has this “punk goes to the beach” sort of sound. It’s totally mindless and very repetitious. Kinda like running. I ran to the second clump of trees on the dirt road, woke up that farm dog on the way and turned back without ever seeing Doniphan.

So today Debbie Harry was in my head and I had just sung “Aaaaah –a-tomic” to myself for about the millionth time when I came to a good stopping point (i.e. exhaustion). Walking my cool-down I came upon an abandoned building. Seeing buildings like this always causes me to wonder who built them and what the original owners felt when they opened the doors for the very first time.

Did they experience a sense of accomplishment?

A rush of “Pride of Ownership?”

Did this building represent their life’s dream?

How long did they stay?

Someone had long ago decided to conquer this little piece of Nebraska; to tame and subdue the earth and everything that lived on or under it in order to enforce their will and erect this long-forgotten piece of Americana. Why had they given up on what once seemed like such a great idea? Why did they abandon it?

It takes my tremendous bulk a long time to dissipate heat accumulated from exercise so I wandered around the asphalt parking area a little longer. Debbie was still in my head singing some of the more profound lines from Atomic: “Tonight … make it right … make it magnificent … your hair is beautiful … tonight … Aaaah-a-tomic.” Actually, that may be the entire vocal track. Deep …

But as I looked closer, I saw this place as a reclamation project. I could see nature reasserting itself to take back its own. The asphalt that once completely subdued anything that lived on or under the ground was losing the battle. Tiny sprouts of grass and scrub brush shot up from invisible cracks in the pavement. It seemed like it wouldn’t take too many more years before a passerby wouldn’t even know this land was once covered in asphalt.

I wondered how long it would take the earth to reclaim the building itself.

I also wondered how many other places and in how many other ways we’ve imposed our wills on the earth to build something we may have thought was a really good idea only to see it fail, or come to nothing, or worse yet, end up being a not-so-very-good idea at all.

Sometimes I think of the earth as this inorganic, lifeless rock. And in some ways it is. But it’s not lifeless in the same way as a car or a DVD player. Put a dent in the fender and it will not heal. Scratch a DVD and it probably won’t repair itself. Toss the DVD player down the stairs because it won’t play the scratched DVD and it most likely will not be able to reassemble itself.

The earth however, does seem somewhat capable of recovering from injuries and “healing” itself from the infections, traumas and thoughtless or mal-conceived acts that accompany us wherever we go. Sometimes there is a scar left behind, but in many cases, given enough time nature finds a way.

In the Hebrew Scriptures it is said that we would attempt to conform the earth according to our own desires but that it would be a struggle to do so. Almost like a battle of wills.

What would it take for us to ultimately and finally win? To subdue the earth to point that it could no longer heal itself, or fight back. What kind of victory would that be? Is it even a battle we’d want to win?

Here in Nebraska, true “Pride of Ownership” was re-asserting itself along the dirt road to Doniphan.

Blondie came back into my head as I continued my cool-down and walked toward our Grand Island campground.

“Aaaah – a-tomic … ”

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