Outside, outside

Birds hide above me somewhere. Their song fills the green spaces like batting, like goose down in a comforter. It's morning, and the sun breaks through tree limbs and leaves, cascading like smooth-edged glass polygons. The world does not really care if I'm here. Tripod leveled on uneven ground, I'm the one who'll have to adjust to fit in.

There are no pachyderms on the horizon. There are no Acacia trees casting patches of shade beneath an equatorial sun. I'm just down the road from my house, standing on the edge of a frontage zone where an uncountable row of steel towers suspends high tension electrical wires like tightropes in the sky. But I'm outside. There are no computer screens; there are clouds.

Does the furtive chipmunk I just saw dashing from one mound to another have any place in the creation of digital media? Not specifically perhaps. Not directly. But to spend a portion of your life outside is to remind yourself about a vital perspective when so many modern careers and school activities and urban obligations force us inside. Standing here surrounded by coarse, ankle high grasses, I find the natural world gently chiding me, reminding that it will simply continue into the future no matter what deadlines our company may be facing, nor what demands our clients, or families, or neighbors maybe asking. The forecast calls for rain tomorrow, but it will rain whether there is a forecast or not. If rain comes at noon or rain comes in the evening evening, it will just come. Or it won't. Things will change, and things will continue. Deadlines have no place here.

Most days, we at 1AU spend inventing the largely artificial world of modern media. The great irony is, I love that space, no matter how unnatural it may be. But the jangling din quiets when I feel a breeze on my face, propelled only by rising convection zones from the nearby hills. It's ironic, but out here everyone clambers for advantage just as aggressively as they do in the city. Out here, however, it's a bird looking for a grub, or that chipmunk, now hidden, grabbing a nut that might have gone to a slightly slower squirrel. Fast-growing vines compete for water sources that choke off slower growing blooming plants. Aged trees send roots deep into the earth, selecting slow, strong strategies to outlast competitors.

Here's the epiphany: it's a riot of creativity. Human perspective changes like a kaleidoscope outside. On a tough day, the natural world is a seething cauldron of violence, each life form angling for vicious advantage, each disinterested in the success of the other. On a good day, the outdoors is a teeming garden of life's great promise, of endless possibility and endless variations and romantic ideals literally taking wing.

I suppose I'm a part of all this. We all are. For many minutes, I forget my camera altogether. It's my camera perhaps and maybe these few words that allow me to bring a spark of the natural world into my more typical electronic, human created spaces. But life is short, and standing here I cannot help but notice that in its most ordinary expressions, life is everywhere. Speaking for myself, I find a utility and deep value in the abandonment of all human all tools for a few minutes at least. It's good to stand still and simply be a part of the natural world, even as those overhead electrical lines remind me how much humanity in general, and therefore myself as an individual, cannot separate human history from natural history.


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