Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Space and the divine

At an Al-Anon meeting last week a silver-haired lean white woman in Birkenstocks or similar sensible sandals shared about how being alone, in nature, particularly under the stars, was what put her in touch with her higher power, gave her a sense of oneness. I know what she's talking about, for sure, this is technically referred to as the "sublime" and is certainly a concept shared by a lot of people, particularly urban or once-urban and affluent ones who can afford to get out and see the sublime sometimes or often.

And then I thought about a story I had had a gander at recently about Chinese swimming pools.

These pools are huge, incredibly crowded and, not surprisingly, hard to keep clean, thus high in pee and poop content.

So what chance do these folx get to have a toodle with the sublime embodiment of the divine that so many affluent folx select as their god of choice?  And, for that matter, what opportunities do the lower-income residents of our own inner cities have? Or, even better, the 1% of our population that we like to keep behind bars as part of our "keep rural white males employed and with guns in their hands" government program that is commonly referred to as the "War on Drugs"? Not that much.

On the other hand, I'm currently in the middle of Peter Hessler's River Town, in which the author recounts a couple of years he spent in the Chinese city of Fuling in the late 90s (a great book, like all of Hessler's. Read it!)  Hessler recounts going to the tombs of a Fuling factory owner's family in more rural areas across the Yangtze from the city, and remarks that the rich guy, remembering what it was like to live in the countryside, didn't romanticize it at all and was happy to head back to his house in the city. I suspect this is pretty common, and that the urban affluent's apotheosization of rural tranquility is really just another instance of grass being greener.

But that Chinese pool still looks nasty.

1 comment:

Hilary said...

Juxtaposition of lone star gazer and sardined pool floaters made me lol