As many who have read my other articles already know, my husband and I live in an RV full time. Recently we had to stay in a family member's driveway for an unexpected, extended duration...smack in the suburbs of Chicago. Though I grew up in the Windy City, I made my escape to the mountains in Glacier National Park, Montana 12 years ago. Being back in the urban dwelling that suffocates my spirit took quite a toll.
A few weeks ago, we were having a small BBQ with family and friends of the family, which led to a lot of dialogue and questions around the patio table. As we sat there, a bird was chirping loudly on a tree branch. Suddenly someone said, "hear that? shoot that thing!" Now, of course, this was said in fun - a dramatic way to exclaim the chirping was driving him crazy. But my quick reply was, "are you KIDDING?" I am sitting here, feeling my blood pressure rise from the sound of incessant lawn mowers, thump-thump car stereos, 747's flying overhead...and that one little bird is driving your crazy?!"
I was quickly sucked into the explanation of the peace and quiet I find in the mountains, where there are no planes overhead, no cars driving on the four wheel drive trails off the beaten path, no tv, no cell phone signal - where I feel completely calm and at peace, completely in the moment. The reply? "Isn't that silence deafening?" (I quietly count the days in my head until I get to go home to Montana).
Another evening not long before this BBQ, other people were over visiting at this same location. The topic turned to the wildlife in NW Montana - particularly, grizzly bears. "Oh my god!" one person exclaimed. "You can't walk outdoors! Aren't you scared?!" I, of course, drew attention to the continually climbing murder rate in Chicago that is on the evening news each night.
I also went through the explanation that grizzly bears are not trying to get into houses, lurking in the trees waiting to eat you - that most maulings are from humans stepping into their domain off the beaten path - surprising a mom with cubs or a griz feeding on a carcass in the back country. Even then they are likely to bluff charge, not attack. But the gaze I get back (and silence) speaks volumes, with a "yeah, right" look. I say I'm more scared walking the streets of Chicago in daylight, to no avail.
As you can see, just these few events got my wheels spinning in the direction of this article. What has happened to people? When did it become only our world, with other living creatures having no claim. When did a bird chirping or a bear in the woods become something bad?
Though I consider myself very caring to my fellow man, overall the large population of unhappy humans I see today, in my opinion, have no one to blame but themselves. They've lost the magic and wonder of life. If only more people sat and found beauty in a bird's song...I can't even imagine such a world anymore. Nature is still doing its "thing" but man has developed blindness to the amazing gift life is and what matters most. Yes, I have more empathy for animals than humans.