Kansas is very different than home. For the last 6 or 8 hours there has been no internet.
There aren’t a lot of people here, but there is a lot of stuff here. By “stuff”, I mean stuff that’s been here for awhile — grass, wind, sky, dirt. Kansas is what happens if you invert Boston. Every person becomes a blade of grass. Every blade of grass in Boston becomes a person here. For every conversation about esoterica over a latte in Boston, there’s a conversation about acres mowed or pounds gathered over a cup of regular coffee.
There is no virtual reality here — there is only “real” reality . There is no traffic here and no rush hour. There are large swaths of nature with scattered little dots of humanity, rather than the other way around.
Where modernity is here, it’s related to nature. Most notable here are the giant wind farms. You’ll see a giant tractor or combine, but they occur only occasionally, like a radical piece of color against the backdrop of what they’re growing .
It’s not that there aren’t people here, it’s just that there is a different perspective here. In the East, there’d be tract housing. Here , there’s no rush to “development “. God, nature, and time seem to have developed things much as they need to be.
Colorado is more of the same regarding population, but very different regarding terrain and life. There are a lot more rocks, lots more rocks that look like somebody cut the top off of. There are frolicking horses and swaying green trees. Where Kansas reminds you that nature is bigger than you are and can be tamed, Colorado reminds you that nature can be welcoming, but it can do just fine without humans. There is life here, just not human life. It, too, has been here since primordial times.
When Native Americans speak of the desert having life and spirit, you can feel them both here at ground level. There is no illusion that you’re in charge here. There’s just majesty all around and you’re in the middle of it, really small. Places like this define the word “awesome”. Not that we haven’t tried to ruin it– my daughter pointed out the stray Citgo sign next to the highway in the middle of nowhere. I wouldn’t want to jinx it by saying people couldn’t conquer the land here, even it seems like that now.
We need places like Kansas and Colorado to remind us that it’s not just people in America. There is nature out there that we can co-operate with and nature that fights back against us. We are small little specks against the land out here. In New England, with all of the smart people, technology, and — in some places — money, we lull ourselves into the false belief that we run things and we’re stronger than nature. This place reminds we’re wrong.