Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Of Men and Social Media


I'm reading a magnificent book right now that is chock-full of amazing quotes and insights. If you have never read Of Men and Mountains by William O. Douglas (former justice of the United States Supreme Court), I highly suggest you put it on the top of your list. It was recently recommended to me by one of the most voracious readers I know, my friend Barb. I'm actually only partway through the book myself, but it has literally brought me to tears twice already. The way Douglas writes about nature is extremely endearing and contagious. It helps that he is a Washingtonian raised in Yakima, so many of the places he writes about touch on familiar memories. Ah, Nostalgia. He writes at length about one of his childhood favorites, Bumping Lake, which is an absolutely magical place that I stumbled on a few years ago. I had never once heard of it before then, and no one I ask about it has either. It's located on the east side of the Cascades in the Wenatchee National Forest. Getting there from Seattle requires driving through a portion of the Mt. Rainier Ntnl. Park on scenic highway 410. Every single time I drive down this highway I think about how much I want and need to get my motorcycle license. 410 was made for bike touring.

In the book, Douglas devotes an entire chapter to Jack Nelson and his wife, who were the first gatekeepers of the Bumping Lake Dam. These two managed the site for something like thirty years. I'm excited because months ago I made a campsite reservation at Bumping Lake which is fortuitously set for next weekend, the 7th-9th! (Just please Universe, no 100 degree weather forecast)

The book is an endless collection of poetic writing and historical facts, but I read a certain passage the other day that spoke volumes to me. It eloquently sums up my views on social media, and why I try my best to keep a healthy distance from it. Keep in mind that this was written in 1950, long before the internet, so I'm merely using it to express my own opinions on the matter:

"Perhaps man was losing his freedom in a subtle manner. He was becoming more and more dependent on other men. Part of that dependency was necessary, since man had to look to others for his food and fuel and essential services. But he had also become dependent on others for his entertainment and his ideas. He looked to people rather than to himself and to the earth for his salvation. He fixed his expectations on the frowns or smiles or words of men, not on the strength of his own soul, or the sunrise, or the warming south wind, or the song of the warbler. Once man leaned that heavily on people he was not wholly free to live. Then he became moody rather than self-reliant. He was filled with tensions and doubts. He walked in an unreal world, for he did not know the world from which he came and to which he would return. He became a captive of civilization rather than an adventurer who topped each hill ahead for the thrill of discovering a new world. He lost the feel of his own strength, the power of his own soul to master any adversity."

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