I live in a sprawling city, where I share my space with 9 million other inhabitants, surrounded, in the main, by monotonous concrete edifices, or other structures of equally wearisome complexion.
So sometimes I need to escape for a while, in an attempt to find redress to the imbalances within the equilibrium of my spirit that modern life imposes. Let’s face it, even the most hardened city dweller amongst us must at some point in their lives at least ponder as to whether or not there is a better, or at least more natural way to live? Who does not like to occasionally leave behind the daily diet of technological over-dependance, combined with sensory and information overload, thanks to the sea of gadgets and devices served up in all manner of brutalistic 20th or 21st century buildings, streets and transport services that clutter our lives to the point of distraction? An escape plan should always be at hand, in case it needs to be called upon at short notice!
On Wednesday this week, I made one such escape attempt, to the countryside, where the space and openness somehow allow me to release all those jumbled up thoughts that have built up in my mind,and to give them some semblance of order or meaning.
Well, that was the intention. I have a standard escape route; public transport to the edge of town, followed by a stroll down the final streets of the city before encountering the vast ocean of green freshness as the fields that lay beyond open up in front of me.
And so from there I continued my journey along the road, as it morped from city street into country lane, reveling in the sense of escape that one experiences upon leaving the “big smoke” behind, free to roam the countryside, uninhibited by formal street layouts and obtrusive dwellings.
All good so far. Silence, panoramic views of field upon field, only interrupted by the occasional hedgerow or cluster of trees now displaying their full complement of glorious autumnal shades, and the vast overcast September sky meeting the landscape far away in the distance. But as I scanned the horizon, something caught my eye, something unnatural and out of place. That horizon, that meeting place of earth and sky that I so enjoyed, so admired, punctured by a towering white monstrosity piercing the sky.
My curiosity of course got the better of me, and I made my way across numerous post-harvest fields, public footpaths and rights of way, horrified to see more and more of these almost extra terrestrial structures multiplying on the horizon as I got closer, all lined up in formation like a battalion of ancient warriors.
One final coppice, one final stile, and I had arrived. And there, towering over me, stood my nemesis, overbearing with three great sword like arms pointing out from its very heart, like a Martian war machine from H.G Wells War of the Worlds; the sum of the very things that I had tried to run away from. A huge, plain monolith, full of machinery, driven by the latest technology, it positively oozed aggressive modernity, the other monolithic machines carefully positioned around it only adding to the menacing effect.
And so I had run, but I was unable to hide. The symbols of dependancy still found me, even drew me too them. I reject them and despise them at times, and yet they comfort me, and, like today, almost instinctively I seek them out, without wanting to. I feel so over-dependant, and yet cannot let go. A pardox.
Have you ever tried to go even a day without depending on a machine to do your bidding, or to blight your sight and mind with a screen of second hand information set amongst repetitive rows of man made architecture that prevent you from seeing what is in the world beyond?
Happy is the one who still can, but many of us, I feel, have gone too far down the road for such redemption.