Wednesday, March 5, 2014

A Man, A Dog, and a Pickup



I had a rough day yesterday. Around 8 pm I found myself shaking with anger. I went to a basketball game where I had a run-in with a man who explained to me that it was okay to yell obscenities in Spanish at teenage girls because we live in a free country. I am usually pretty easy-going, but modern sports fans and the behaviors that have become the norm at sporting events elevate my blood pressure to say the least.

So, I dealt with my anger by sticking my head in the sand.

The sand, in this case, is another Steinbeck book. Travels with Charley.

I have read it before, but I read it as a much younger man and as a much less environmentally aware man.

I read a few chapters, and my blood pressure went down. I found myself on a road trip with a couple of old friends, and it was a great place to be.

I do not think Steinbeck is the greatest author ever to live. But I have found him to be the most enjoyable writer I have read. It's seldom the broad sweep of his writing that gets me. It's a small passage or a small observation. Travels with Charley was written around 1960 and was published in 1962. I ran across this passage last night, and it gave me pause that it was written more than half a century ago.

Everything we use comes in boxes, cartons, bins, the so-called packaging we love so much. The mountains of things we throw away are much greater than the things we use. In this, if in no other way, we can see the wild and reckless exuberance of our production, and waste seems to be the index. Driving along I thought how in France or Italy every item of these thrown-out things would have been saved and used for something. This is not said in criticism of one system or the other but I do wonder whether there will come a time when we can no longer afford our wastefulness - chemical wastes in the rivers, metal wastes everywhere, and atomic wastes buried deep in the earth or sunk in the sea. When an Indian village became too deep in its own filth, the inhabitants moved. And we have no place to which to move.

May we not become too deep in our own filth.

Bonus link for the day:
Radiation Leak in New Mexico last week