Friday, April 15, 2005

Autos and awakening, an Earth Day tidbit

The next time you find yourself in your car, about to turn the keys of your ignition, stop a moment, take a breath, and ask: is this a conscious act? Was I aware of walking to the car? Did I notice the weight of the door when I opened it? Do I notice how my bottom and back press into the seat? Am I aware of the nearness of the roof to my head and how far my feet are above the ground?

Or, is the car something of a sleeping act, where we get in, put a picture in our mind of where we want to end up, and go, more or less, on automatic until we get there? Are we in something like a trance as we use this explosion-based box that uses 95% of its energy pulling the box and only 5% moving us?

And what about all that we are missing in this explosion-based box? The trees and the flowers, the green leaf and lawn and blue sky, the ceiling that is five miles above us, not several inches. And the people who we are too isolated from the properly say hello, to smile and receive a smile in return. All this rush, and so much lost in the hurry.

Missing all that pleasure of a ten or fifteen minute walk or bike ride, the simple joy of moving, of freedom from the box, of breathing fresh air and seeing the world in all its immediate glory.

And have we examined this story of “running late,” “too much to do,” and so on, that puts the six minutes saved by driving across town ahead of a life that is lived in the present and in the beauty of nature? Is going slower a “waste of time” or is it reclaiming our lives? Is "time" more important than breath? And what of the health benefits, the heart attacks we can save by getting out of the explosion-based boxes and letting the miraculous body do what it loves to do: move on its own steam, breathing in that good oxygen that the plants and trees are making every day. These explosion-based boxes eat the oxygen, too, it is said at the rate of one gallon of gas eating up the oxygen a baby breathes in its first year of life. Sometimes they are necessary, these car things. Sometimes they are not. Are we awake to the difference?

Chris Elms


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