I live in Los Angeles year-round now. So I have grudgingly accepted that my occasional visits home to Seattle now happen by airplane.
It took five years, but I eventually burned out on the 2-day drive up or down the coast. I did it at least twice a year from 2007 to 2012, when I more or less split my time between the two cities. The drive can be quicker than two days, but when I did it, I stopped too often, shutting off the car to stare out at nature.
There are places along the coast of northern California and southern Oregon where the beauty defies words or descriptions. You have to just stop the car, get out, walk along the beach, take it in as fully as you can, then get back in the car and go, a slightly changed person.
I miss these places.
I have been to lots of places on this little ball we live on. Friends of mine have been to many more places than me, but I've been around a little.
Here in the United States I've been to most of the major cities; New York a few times, Chicago, Denver, Dallas, Houston, Miami, Minneapolis, Indianapolis, Cleveland, Washington, D.C.
I lived in San Francisco for three months when I was 18, attending a small college that left town shortly after I left the college.
I lived in Phoenix, Arizona for a year when I was too young to remember it. I know Phoenix mostly from Summer visits through the rest of my childhood.
I've been to London and Paris, but I have often joked about the fact that while in Paris I ate at McDonald's one day. Some of my friends believe that eating at McDonald's in Paris more or less cancels the trip; you didn't really go.
I have also been to Munich, Germany, Vancouver, Canada, and parts of Mexico and Switzerland.
I have camped in a tent in the woods, and looked down at Times Square from many floors up in a Manhattan hotel room.
Why do I mention all this?
I've been thinking about our little ball-in-space recently. I like our little ball. It's the right distance from the sun. It has amazing oceans, mountains, deserts, and swamps.
I have never been to Asia, but I read, just this morning, that more than 2 million deaths are caused each year - the majority of them in Asia - by air pollution.
I also read on the NASA website that warming oceans are causing what they called "basal melting;" ice melting underneath the Anarctic ice shelf.
Environmental science is a complex thing, and I do not want to over-simplify things here.
Since I visited the Florida Everglades for the first time this past April, I have been reading up on the science of Everglades devastation and attempted restoration. It's a depressing read.
Two of my friends this weekend are sitting in boats on a lake in Mammoth, California. They are fishing.
I'm jealous of them. I want to be on a boat fishing, far away from these sounds of L.A. traffic outside my window.
Not everyone agrees on issues of pollution, the environment we live in, or the health of our little ball-in-space. And certainly not everyone agrees on how things ought to change going forward.
It is my hope, though, that we can all begin to agree on some basic truths:
-A lake in Mammoth, California, filled with fish, is a beautiful thing.
-The Pacific Ocean, viewed from a cold Oregon beach in October is a beautiful thing.
-An alligator staring up at you from half-submerged eyes, in the Florida Everglades, is a beautiful thing.
This ball we live on is actually pretty small. You can fly all the way around it making only two or three stops. You can orbit it in the Space Station in about an hour and a half.
We have changed our planet. We have to accept that at this point. Welcome to the new reality.
Maybe we can agree that the driving principle going forward should be based on a little bit of love for our fragile little ball-in-space.
Just a thought.
July 13, 2013