An Excerpt from Jim Conrad's
NATURALIST NEWSLETTER
of April 13, 2009
issued from on the road, traveling across the US in a Greyhound bus

GHOSTLY GLOW ON THE
GREYHOUND'S CEILING

These long bus trips slicing through vast arenas of geography, sociology and politics help me figure out what's going on with humanity these days. Let me tell you what on this trip most caught my attention:

This week I learned what you already knew, that people nowadays are much engaged with their cell phones and other handheld communication devices. Nearly always as we crossed deserts, ranchland and general mid-America ticktack, we on the bus could listen to at least two or three one-sided conversations. Deep in a certain night I awoke to find the ceiling of the bus's blacked-out interior aglow with the light of many LCD screens pointed upward, with text and thumbnail images scrolling endlessly toward screen tops, thumbs silhouetted against screens furiously probing.

Sometimes people in seats in front of me held their screens so that I could see them over their shoulders. Since those same people kept the backs of their seats jammed against my aching knees, sometimes I felt justified looking at their screens to learn what possibly could be so absorbing.

It was nothing worth seeing, as probably you know better than I.

Being continually bombarded with information creates mind-clutter leading to confusion and disorientation. Nowadays as communication becomes ever easier and quicker, the quality of what is being communicated not only plummets but also more mind-clutter leads to more of that confusion and disorientation..

I arrive at my new camp proposing to do precisely the opposite of what's going on in the world around me. I'm going to immerse myself in plants and animals randomly met on little walks. I plan to focus hard on just a few modest things, and in my own awkward way sing little songs of those things' prettiness and worth.

When the sun comes up, I want to help my friends with their gardening and getting in firewood for the next cold season. When the sun goes down I want to sleep, and never, ever awaken to see those luminous ghosts-of-what-could-have-been on my ceiling. Facebook Icon.