Friday, April 07, 2006

The Modern World

Last Christmas, our family spent a lot of time together, all four of us. My sister was on break from medical school, and mom was on Christmas vacation. Dad's been retired for several years now. I was freelancing, which is a euphemism for being a bum, because I make a few hundred bucks every couple months, so I'm basically a freeloader. Anyway, we were all under the same roof for a week, and God knows if that'll ever happen again.

We went to see Walk the Line, which, aside from being the only new film I saw last year, marked the first time in about three calendars that I went to the cinema. As much as I would recommend Walk the Line to anyone, it wasn't Johnny Cash's story that most affected me. There was a scene where he and his brother were walking down a country road, vegetation as far as the eye could see, a hazy gloss of heat in the atmosphere, and I could even smell fresh cut grass. Maybe once in a while you'd hear a locust buzzing in the distance, but that might be my own childhood memories interfering. I really had to hold back the tears as I questioned where in the holy hell they filmed that scene, i.e. what part of the world had yet to be corrupted by our vain constructions and wanton destruction? I would have killed to be in that place, where concrete and billboards might have seemed like a nightmare. Surely, urban taints like cell phones and pollution couldn't exist there in the country. But that's probably a pipe dream; the hand of man will likely destroy it someday.

Fast forward to tonight. It's been a long time since I shared my writing with someone, but I was compelled to show YĆ©rula a poem I wrote in 2001, which I based on what little I knew of the Aztecs. She feels a strong connection to them, and I truly hope I'm not betraying her trust by mentioning this in a public blog. I'll never forget tonight's discussion, and I wish to share the wisdom it recalled, the same feeling I had when I saw the country acres in Walk the Line.

Even though man erects steel structures, erasing the natural landscape; even though greedy pursuits smudge the foundations of our societies, the imprints of feet that can't walk anymore, the impressions left by those who are departed; even though there are people who are monsters in human bodies, there are also genuine things in this world. There are those who mourn because of all this destruction, the same ones who contribute to preserving what's about to be lost. These are the souls who are more alive than hearts can beat, more real than anything tangible. There are people, not bodies and blood, but people, identities, experiences, feelings. This is the true meaning of life. And you know what? You will never find anything this genuine in assembly lines, in market shares, in profit margins, in the whole world. The only way to be real is to share your soul with others. The only way to matter is to befriend someone. The only way to exist is to not destroy the world we all share. This world is the greatest gift God gave us, aside from life itself. Without this world, we'd just be atoms in a void. Without our souls, we'd be products on a conveyer belt. It took me over 20 years to learn these things. Thanks are owed to everyone who ever loved, hated, helped, and hurt me. You all contributed to teaching me these lessons. And, God help me, I'll share this knowledge with as many as possible.

Next time you see a bee pollinating a flower, count your blessings. You saw the real thing. Someone, at some point, will only be able to read about it. I'll do my best to prevent the demise of these wonders, but I can't stop the inevitable. If the least and most we can do is remember, then I vow to do that. As I already promised tonight, I'll never forget what matters.


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