No Safe Place

(Non Fiction)

The great American poet Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote in “Good Bye,” about the cruelty of modern civilization and contemplates abandoning it for the natural world. In the piece’s opening he said, “Good bye, proud world! I’m going home. Thou art not my friend, and I’m not thine. Long through thy weary crowds I roam; a river-ark on the ocean brine, long I’ve been tossed like the driven foam: But now proud world! I’m going home.”

I’m with Emerson. The hustle and bustle of the modern world certainly seems at times to be too much. It’s like being on a tread mill; you have to run just to stand still. I only have to turn on the T.V. during this time of year and watch a few “Black Friday” commercials to feel harried and aggravated, like I’d rather live in a secluded cave than be part of such a meaningless society.

Anyway, Emerson’s poem continues:

“When I am safe in my sylvan home, I tread on the pride of Greece and Rome; and when I am stretched beneath the pines, where the evening star so holy shines, I laugh at the lore and the pride of man, at the sophist schools and the learned clan; for what are they all, in their high conceit, when man in the bush with God may meet.”

Again, I’m mostly with Emerson, but there is one thing that gives me pause. I think you have to be more than a little naïve to think you can find lasting safety in the nature world. Nature is brutal and unforgiving. In the documentary “Black Fish,” about the multiple deaths that have occurred at SeaWorld amusements parks as a result of angry and confined Orca Whales mutilating and drowning their trainers, this theme resounds throughout. You need to respect nature and even view it in awe, but you still need to keep your guard up because humans are not capable of fully understanding the world and all its creatures. They can eat us after all.

What does this mean? Well, for me, it means that there is really no safe place; no solace. Wherever we go there will be pitfalls and dangers and monsters that are real – whether at the shopping mall or in the middle of the woods.

This is all heavily philosophical – so much so that it may bore a reader if included in fiction – but I’m going to give it a try. I’m working on a short piece about a man who’s eaten by bugs and I want to work this idea in as a theme. We shall see.


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