Musings on Mankind while Driving through Wyoming

If you thought that title was boring, you just got the point.

My family just moved from Denver, Colorado to Twin Falls, Idaho, and when we told our friends, they all gave us the same advice: Don’t go through Wyoming. It’s desolate and dull. Also, my parents, who helped us move and drove ahead of us, warned me not to take the GPS route, but to take the highways they gave us instead.

We ignored all advice. We drove through Wyoming and took the GPS scenic route. And do you know what we saw?

Wheat-colored hills peppered with sage brush. Brick-red buttes huddled in formation. Pockmarked cliffs of staggering height. Rippled mounds that looked like some giant-child had run his fingers through sand. Creeks rushing and tumbling down the slopes. Free-roaming cattle and lush, golden farmlands.

And we could have missed it. I wondered why our friends and family told us to skip all this, but then I remembered the recurring declarations: “It’s boring. It’s desolate. There’s nothing out there.”

So as my wife took a turn at the wheel, I stared out the window at all the natural, untouched glory and wondered what is wrong with mankind, specifically “civilized” mankind, when it cannot enjoy a piece of land if there isn’t a Starbucks in five miles.

Inconvenience is Not a Sin

Wyoming is the kind of place where you need to drive a long way to get anywhere. Groceries, haircuts, hospitals, movie theaters, anything at all, you have to invest some time. All the urban and suburban comforts and pleasures have lost some of their comfort and pleasure.

But what’s wrong with that? Why do we scoff and frown at those “backwards” people who don’t have a mall or shopping center? I think the answer is because Americans at least cannot go backwards in convenience.

Once we have something convenient, we demand it at all times. That’s why no one shuts off their phones in the movie theaters anymore, or why smart phones have left others in the dust. That’s why new towns explode all at once–we dare not do without McDonald’s for too long!

There’s nothing automatically wrong with convenience, growth, or change. However, I fear it’s made us weak. We can’t do without simple pleasures anymore. People go to war over video game consoles the day after Thanksgiving for pity’s sake!

 

Today, take a longer route home or to the store or wherever you need to go. Look around and find something you like. Enjoy what’s around you, don’t just barrel through it because you’re in some kind of self-imposed hurry.

If you said “No” to that request, ask yourself why. Don’t chuckle and act like it’s cute to be lazy. Really look at yourself and ask “why?”

Boredom is Not a Sin

There’s nothing worse in the modern world than being bored. It is an insufferable, toxic plague that will end humanity in the course of mere hours.

Or so our culture would have you think.

It’s not just that we have so many things to do, it’s that we HAVE to do those things. As soon as you’re done with one activity, move to the next. Let not a moment of your life go by that isn’t busy doing something. If it takes too long, scrap it for something faster. Let not your brains fill the empty space of time.

The funny thing is the people who fear boredom are more miserable than anybody. Their brains have been rewired for constant stimuli, whether work or TV or eating. They’ve lost the ability to sit still and rest.

They can no longer look at a mountain and see its majesty because it’s not changing every six seconds, not dancing around or cracking jokes to cater to their ever-changing marketing needs.

Yet, this is only a disease you find in “advanced” cultures. In other words, boredom is a plague mankind invented for himself.

Extremism, now THAT’S a Sin

I’m not saying we should all shatter our TVs and go live in the cliffs of Wyoming wearing only loincloths and eating nothing but wild figs. I know I’m part of the problem, too. I get bored with 15-minute Youtube videos, I keep a dozen tabs open at once because God forbid I type in the URL again, and I can’t even hold a conversation with my own wife sometimes because of my amusement-seeking brain.

But even I have to wonder: can we really call this other extreme progress? Can we really say we’re the “better” humans because we bullied the Earth into bowing to our whims? Better than those losers in Wyoming who only have rocks? Better than those kids in Africa who never even saw an iPhone?

Do we have any right to pity them?

Let me ask you one last question: who benefits from this extreme modernism? Who benefits from constant pleasure and comfort? Who is growing, advancing, and prospering from endless entertainments?

The providers, not the consumers.

McDonalds, Apple, Warner Bros., they’re the kind of people who are making money and doing well in this day and age. But the human beings who live their life according to the rules that keep the modern age afloat?

Well…have you seen the suicide statistics lately?

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