My “Squawks” page is where you will find my creative writing, op-ed pieces and various uncategorized banter including wisdom I’ve gleaned from others.
Excerpts and comments from my essay “On Being Bipeds:”
The first big step in anyone’s life is learning to walk shortly followed by learning to talk, though some of us are early talkers and late walkers. As babies, some of us find the need to speak unnecessary in a world that can be absorbed through the sensory and explored on foot after learning to walk. These babies take the route of peaceful protest—Gandhian toddlers boycotting the use of spoken word. Finally at the age of three or so, they will come to the realization that they can advantageously use language to describe the environment they have been ambling about in. We are all discoverers in our own right. Putting the right words to what we see is a challenge from birth to death. For the experiential part of life we rely on age-old devices. Walking and talking are the two fundamental aspects that make us human, and it is no surprise we are met with the challenge of their mastery early on in our lives.
Somewhere along our journey before we were truly human, we figured out how to use fire. Jumping many years ahead, we harnessed its properties and made engines. Train tracks would clink their way across open country like ants across a leaf. Locomotives made their way from point A to point B much faster than the llamas could have, and held more people. Then in America Henry Ford invented the Model T and people began zipping around the world in wheeled combustible engine powered boxes. To facilitate these new inventions, we created black and grey scars that would follow train tracks, spreading quickly across the landscape. These roads would spiral into freeways and overpasses and cars would fill them. 5:00 PM on the 405 in Los Angeles: bumpers touch, people sit, patiently impatient. Some of us wake up, walk to the car and drive to work, sit at work, drive home, and repeat.
Planes, trains and automobiles later, we still walk; thing is some of us disdain the old ways when we had to walk everywhere. We have constructed around us concrete barriers to our history. Entertainment is on a box, travel is in a box, and we all live in little boxes on the hillside made of ticky tacky, little boxes all the same. Breaking the mold means not forgetting our origins and who we are. We are all Homo sapiens. The biped that mastered travel. We are also the product of a lineage of social animals, and our species has the unique ability to be expressive in language. Our Broca’s area in our brain and our soft palate give us the ability to produce speech. As the smartest animal in the history of animals—or so we tell ourselves—we are physiologically designed to walk the walk and mentally talk the talk.
Thanks for writing and sharing this article. I thoroughly enjoyed it.
To appreciate life in its natural beauty, to really stop and listen, smell, feel, and see the beauty that surrounds us… and absorb the knowledge that nature offers, one can only be in awe of it all.
Andy, I am at a total loss for words. This is so beautifully written and inspiring in its own way. I look forward to reading more of your articles.
I have my doubts about those people constantly ‘pushing the limits’. It smacks of the great New Zealand (psychotic?) need to be the ‘world beater’ in everything (we are, too; our braggarts can outdo anything you wimps can throw up)*.
Perhaps I relate more closely to the Brit ‘rambling’ … just go, do it; no need to impress anyone with speed or distance, no need for the de rigeur little plastic bottle of designer water complete with the little towel around the neck. I think the whole answer is to do it for yourself— one can understand why the world’s great religions fused out of the desert/mountainous fastness.
* ‘Throw up’ being the operative words: yuk.