I’ve been thinking about distances lately. And proximities. The distance from and the proximity to. I’ve been thinking not of the nearness and distance in my relationships with certain people (That’s a novel, not a blog!), but rather about the distances we create from the external functions of our life and how such distances erode the internal connection we have with our world.

Confusing? Let me give you an example of what I mean.

I tend to be a very hands-on homeowner. I take care of the pool, the jacuzzi, the garden tasks, including automatic sprinklers and drip systems. I do simple electrical work, e.g., breakers, new plugs and switches, lights (interior & exterior). I paint, perform rough carpentry, and keep up the good fight with local vermin populations of rats and raccoons.

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But I don’t do windows!

So when Nettie and I decided to install laminate windows throughout our house, we hired a contractor. It’s a lot of work, but not for us since we have very little role in the process except for writing the checks, which Nettie does anyway.

Yet as I watch the two guys tear apart our old window sills, chip out the ancient glazing, and remove the window pane, I’m struck by how watching this upgrade to the house take place is distinctly different from doing the work myself.

I know that sounds pretty damn obvious, but hear me out.

The distinctly different part I’m referring to is the emotional distance I feel from the significant transformation taking place in my home. The new windows come from somewhere, they are installed by someone (the guys we hired), and our home is somehow different in a way that I am not connected to because I didn’t do the work myself.

If I had done the work myself (presuming of course that I could do the work), I would be emersed in the process; my proximity would be transparent to me; the process itself would in fact become an effective part of me, just as I would have become a demonstrable part of the new windows as well.

This growing lack of connection that I’m feeling lately to my brick and wood house is as fundamental, it seems to me, as the modern relationship is with food…the growing of it, the preparation of it, the cooking of it, the eating of it. Most of the time, Nettie and I prepare our food, we buy it, we cook it, and we eat it. But we rarely grow it (though sometimes I do catch it on a fishing pole).

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Given the size of the Prepared Foods Section at local markets these days and the rather alarming proliferation of restaurants and eateries in every neighborhood, it’s pretty obvious most people today only eat their food. They certainly don’t grow it, they don’t prepare it, and they don’t generally cook it.

I know how busy today’s parents/families/singles, etc., are. They don’t have the time, or interest, or both. But the distance from this fundamental aspect of their life grows and grows (pun inteded).

But so what? What’s the big deal?

Well, I remember a Cultural Anthropology course I took ages ago that went into great detail about how humankind over centuries became more and more separated from the natural world, and more and more unhappy and unhealthy, moving first from the forest canopy high in the branches to the forest floor, then roaming the savannah, then running into the village, to the city…the asphalt street under foot, the mega-storied apartment building above us and we inside with the door closed tight and the TV turned up loud.

Oh, the ennui of it all! Yes, ennui. For this is the sensation that distance produces…profound boredom. An ennui of purposelessness.

Damn it! I want to take a hammer and hammer something. Or a saw and saw something. Or maybe I should climb a tree and swing through the branches.

Yeah, that’s it. I’ll take my primate brain back to my primate past. I’ll erase all distances. I’ll merge all proximities.

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I’ll climb the beautiful Modesto Ash tree whose sturdy branches reach above our deck.

This magnificent Modesto Ash that shimmers in reflection above our pool.

I’ll climb high into its perfect arms that drift like seaweed in the afternoon wind.

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To the very top I’ll go and find my way back to myself against the bright blue sky with the sun shining through.

And I’ll hold on tight for I know that falling to earth is no stranger to my breed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3 Responses to The Distance From Here

  1. Hugo Garcia says:

    Don’t worry Frank if you survive the zombie apocalypse you’ll be back to growing and killing your own food. Life repeats itself.

  2. Cynthia Maxwell says:

    And that is why I am a falconer. See “forgotten footsteps” on UTUBE.

  3. Anonymous says:

    As with the modesto ash; mother nature, the earth, sun and rain all deserve a shout out. It takes community to support the individual. We are not here in isolation although modern life has created a seperation from all the sustains us – if you let it ! Much love

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