The Satellites

I have gotten into the habit of writing something every morning. I attempted to make it something related to this blog, but usually I fail. Today my thoughts of landscape images and wide open spaces took me to write this. It might be a bit trite, but I feel there’s something there. Something worth sharing about setting out, with your pockets full of film and finding adventure.

I hope you’ll find that something in there, too.


Point me in the direction of North, and I will set out. To the woods, and through the snow and rock fields the depleting glaciers have left behind. Through the long dark night of winter and into the emerging spring. Tell me to look for it there, in the interstices of nature, in the nooks and crannies of the wild and the tamed grassy steppes. The sea will be just behind the mountains, and the mountains will gleam with sunlight left over from this long, hot summer, only interrupted a few times with gushing rains from the same kind of clouds that now form the backdrop of this picture. Bergwelt (a.k.a. Windows-Hintergrundbild)

Give me a car with a raised roof and a railing on it, and I will cart the casks of lenses and of film, of canvas and oils and brushes and knives, and the mood will dictate the kind of image that I make. Stand there in front of the setting sun and hold your wide brimmed hat with one hand while you smile at me and I’ll take a polaroid, and that will be the most treasured memory of them all.

Who is to say we must board a ship to explore, or strap on a heavy backpack and rough leather shoes with hammered in soles? Couldn’t we instead just set out with today’s clothes, made presentable for society, wearing belts that are too tight and jackets that are not quite warm enough? What is stopping us, every single one of us, from grabbing just the essential and waving off the encroaching mass of humanity behind us? Or is there no place left to meander to? Have we bracketed off the forests and the deserts and have we even fenced in the sea? Is that why new thoughts are so few in the coming and old routes are walked over again and again until the trodden grass becomes a dirt path becomes a good road becomes a highway, to which we then add lanes, as many as sixteen or so, and then let fall fallow because the future flies us to the not here we needed to be at in jet engines high above?
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Do you believe in the circle of life, or the square of the city block? Aren’t the two incompatible? Aren’t our take offs and landings always finding the rumbliest strip of the runway not because there is not more space behind and before, but because it’s safest to land there?

I could set out in a plane, too. I would learn to operate the levers and flick the dials with my fingers so their needles would float freely and show me the horizon straight and how much fuel I had left in my tank and how many feet below my bow to give that feeling of security. That if I dropped, I could drop far and still would not hit ground. And the propellers could rumble a poem for me to fly at night, out under the Golden Gate, and on to the ocean. But I would turn back soon enough to make a round over the cities, and wave goodbye before following a ship to the islands off shore.

Could I set a course and fly it true without beacons and lights and radar to guide me? Without looking up to the artificial satellites that in my imagination still beep like the very first one, chatting with the world and chattering amongst themselves, and commenting smartly on the marble below? Would I have to? We could make the satellites our friends, and watch them dutifully cross the night sky in their almost eternal rounds, their speed constant and their solar wings spread wide. We could learn their names and invite them to talk to us equal to equal, and give report on the state of what they see. 20535973916_0e6441736e_o

Do you know the names of the satellites already? Not the names we give them, but the ones they pick themselves, the names that reflect their exalted station. Are they earthbound names? Is this Suzie, and that Clara, and Peter and Larissa and Clay? Do they know of irony and fun and nickname their peers? Could you rely on the data that “Big” or “Swoozie” or “Tumbler” send? Or are they thinkers, who see themselves as philosophers king, privy to so much more than us humans down here?

You could trust the course correction that an “Odyssea” and a “Constantia” give, though they would always quibble about who’s right, and you would go, in the end, with “Odyssea” because you’re not done yet. You only just set out. Point me in the direction of North, and so will I.

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