Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Wandering About Yellowstone

Here in Yellowstone, I've been doing some walking, even as Thoreau might call it, some "sauntering." I am in most ways the opposite of tourists. I've watched, patiently, Old Fauithful errupt dozens of times, and not just dozens of times but hundreds of times. And I've waited hours for other more surprising geysers to erupt, sometimes late at night, in near total darkness or bathed in the eerie gray light of a full moon, splashes and steam rising like ghosts from underground.

And though I feel rather at home here, in big mythic ways, I do feel I am roaming, adrift, doing an annual summer pilgrimage to both disconnect and reconnect with America. Unfortunately, for those of us who disparage and despair for the present, I tend to disconnect with the drums and churning development of the here and now - and stand haunted, somewhat forlornly feeling out some tenuous threads of what was and what might remain after our gift shops and steel beasts and parking lots have crumbled. I want to reconnect with the good in people and in the grandness of the land.

Here are, in this spirit, two apropos quotations for today:

From Jean-Jacques Rosseau's "Discourse on Inequality"...

"Never did I think so much, exist so vividly, and experience so much. Never have I been so much myself -- if I may use that expression -- as in the journeys I have taken alone and on foot. There is something about walking that stimulates and enlivens my thoughts."

And this gem from Rebecca Solnit's book "Wanderlust"...

"It may be that loyalty to something as immaterial as ideas sets thinkers apart from those whose loyalty is tied to people and locale, for the loyalty that ties down the latter will often drive the former from place to place. It is an attachment that requires detachment."

My thoughts are enlivened. I feel both attached and detached.


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