The air was a clean and clear as I remember for a long time as I sat outside the other day for about an hour. The blanketing sun was warm, evened out by the light, cool breeze. My head was like a submarine, stuffy from my cold, but the stillness and quiet of the Wyoming air made me forget about that. I brought a book out with me, but within minutes, it found itself closed on my lap. I didn’t need a book to fill my mind with distraction. The atmosphere was too inspiring for anything outside of it. I just sat and thought, and soaked it in.
There were several birds that struck my attention after twenty or so minutes in the whiskery tree at the edge of the yard a few yards away. I wouldn’t have noticed those birds, camouflaged in the tree branches if I didn’t allow myself to soak in the surroundings – to be still. I would have missed their short, jerking head motions and their silent communication with one another as they hopped from branch to branch.
There is a certain quality to Wyoming that I have always criticized, always wanted to escape from. But there is a certain quality to Wyoming that I absolutely adore, something I will always miss when I am away from it. I’m not very journeyed, but I can’t imagine very many other places where you can sit in your backyard, in the middle of town, and experience that same stillness and quiet. Even the occasional revving engine of a passing truck contributes to it.
I couldn’t smell anything as I sat out there thanks to my cold, but I didn’t have to to internalize the brown, sagy pungency that I have taken for granted most of my life. That dry, dusty smell will be something I carry with me the rest of my life, reminding me where I come from. I wouldn’t have had it any other way.
It struck me the past week or so how critical our society is. We love to criticize at any chance we get. Newspaper columns, blogs (mine included), news stations, sports commentary, etc. is filled with critical opinion. For some reason, that is quickly becoming the only opinion worth publishing. We’re moving to the point where we are on the verge we totally disregard, like me with Wyoming, the good aspects of things.
In an ideal world, I think that politicians would not spend the entirety of their energy criticizing the perceived weaknesses of their opponents, but instead look at the strengths of their opponents. Instead of pulling each other back like children fighting over a loose football, they would push each other forward, challenging each other like Bird and Magic fighting over an NBA championship.
It’s easy to criticize. It’s not easy to criticize correctly and constructively. And it’s not easy to slow down and empathize, or emphasize the good. But I am going to challenge myself to do just that, to not look at what I disagree with so much, but focus on what I agree with and what makes me disagree.
I don’t think this world needs another writer going around criticizing everything he sees without offering any kind of solutions.
There’s no poetry in that.
But there is poetry in the inverse.