Long before singer Lee Ann Womack hoped that we’d still feel small when we stood beside the ocean, I was living it.
In 1987, the day I turned 16, I obtained my driver’s license, back in a time when we recognized that allowing teens to drive, alone, at night, at the age of 16, was a necessary evil. This was also long before anyone even contemplated the idea that we would one day claim people were “children” until the age of 26, as we now define such.
My time and upbringing as a teen also demanded that I paid and earned my own way to prepare me for the real world. I bought my own first car, a 1978 Ford Mustang, and had my own job to pay for its upkeep and fuel. That’s right, children….while going to high school full time as a Junior carrying a full load of AP college credits, I also worked 4 days per week from 3-9pm and both Saturday and Sunday from 9-6, all while maintaining my 3.55 GPA. Hard to imagine in this day age but I did so.
And when I had a rare day off, or free time to myself, having grown in the East Bay Area, I would take a 90 minute drive to my favorite beaches at Half Moon Bay. YES…alone! Can you believe I was allowed to do such a thing especially in an age without anything remotely close to cell phones, the internet or Mapquest? I drove on freeways, and across the Bay or San Mateo Bridge (depending on which route I chose that day) and then somehow traversed the winding roads that got me to California’s Pacific Coast.
And when I got there I sat. I literally sat there, sometimes for hours, and did nothing but watch the ocean crash upon the shore. And even as a punk teenager who knew he knew everything about the world, nothing made me feel as insignificant as the ocean. The power, fury, beauty and total inability of us to stop it from doing whatever it wants to, was ingrained in me every time and that lives on today. When I was in Hawaii last summer I took multiple opportunities to sit with the ocean and remember how unimportant I am. Oh, and how unimportant you are…and we all are.
While on Spring Break a few weeks ago, I was in Dallas where my girlfriend Christina lives (for now), and I once again afforded the opportunity to remember how small the human race really is.
While we have had a brutal winter by our standards in Northern California and Nevada, it’s very hard to take time and reflect while you’re living your every day life. Don’t get me wrong, I try. During the multiple massive storms of the past many months which downed literally thousands of trees, flooded more bodies of water than can be counted, dumped dozens of feet of snow and even beat up a dam, I always tried to take a few minutes to safely stare at the power of Mother nature. But, alas, the phone would ring, one of the dogs would bark, or life would simply call.
During Spring Break, Dallas had a 24 hour period of massive thunderstorms. Nothing more or less than I’ve seen before, but on one night, it hit after Christina had gone to bed (she still had to work…haha) and I was still awake when the first boom of thunder hit. I immediately headed out to her front patio area and for the next 30 minutes stood there and watched how powerful the Earth is and how insignificant we are. Half a dozen times the lightning strike was so bright it lit up the entire sky and the thunder began before the light dimmed and was so powerful the building shook. The rain came down in sheets to the point where if you stuck your hand under it, it tried its’ mightiest to bend your hand backwards.
And yet we think that we’re a threat to this planet. The arrogance of us as a species knows no bounds and what is so sad is our complete and total inability to admit it.
When the Earth is ready, it will rid us of it. Until then, we cannot and will not have any irreversible effects on it. Once we’re gone, the Earth will heal itself as it always does. Remember the BP Oil spill in the Gulf years ago? We were told it would take more than a decade to clean up and that the Gulf may never recover. Less than a year later, the water and beaches were inexplicably clean and pure, no thanks to our efforts. We are so conceited it is beyond sickening. I’m quite happy being small, thank you.
For a more eloquent point of this view, take 8 minutes out of your oh-so-busy day to watch the late comedian George Carlin (and a raging Liberal who knew when to call his own ideology’s point of view out for its’ bullshit) in one of his most famous riffs from 20 years ago…every word still matters and is more poignant than ever before.