The Earth Is Totally Hip

The one question I return to: from the center of our vast population, can we human beings reach out to the thing that created us? The industrial inebriation of traffic-life, computer-life, and military-life -- is so complete. We as the top dog species isolate ourselves from the Earth -- just as the Earth makes the effort to talk to us. And oh -- it's trying to get our attention! It freezes us out, bakes us, drowns us spectacularly. But we treat each natural disaster as a stand-alone event and nature as a mystifying criminal. Can we reach creation when it is routinely defined this way every day? As far as I can tell, the first thing that is required of us, to survive, is to notice -- our creation is speaking to us within the weather and geologic upheavals that are now tabloidized by the "news."

I live more or less in the center of 20 million people, here with Savi and Lena. The world around us has turned into a self-repeating suburb, and sometimes we have the tragic, final feeling that the Earth is out of reach. Last November a narrow storm came through Brooklyn like a rifle shot, 100 mile-an-hour winds, trees born in the 19th century flying across the street and smashing into the edifices of revered monuments. The Earth can reach us.

What are we doing? We are staring at a screen. We're crossing the room. We stand in our front door and look out across a man-made horizon with little pocket parks surrounded by trash. We stand here in the doorway and realize that we will have to turn to the wilderness within. Can we be nomads in our own bodies? We look down at our bodies. We are mostly water and mostly wilderness with a personality guiding the unruly raw material. Our bodies are largely bacteria that we carry with us, invisible to the eye, wilderness that we give our own name. If the Earth's horizon has disappeared, well, we have a lot of funky life right here.

Like my 20 million neighbors, I long to cross a bridge back to "deep time." I need animism everywhere. I need spirits rising from the furniture, from the computer, from the baby's crib... like steam full of intelligence. Can I walk on that bridge back to deep time by walking in Coney Island? Or the Green-Wood Cemetery? I live in a city that imitates itself, manufactures replicas of itself. New York was the capital of world culture decades ago. We try to reach from the center of these 20 million people, reach creation from an ingrown spiral of self-congratulation. The Greatest City in the World.

The Earth is in Prospect Park, is in the Inwood forest, is in the swirling mouth of the East River. The Earth rises up and enters New York like an aggressive immigrant who will change the world. The thing that created us confronts us and suddenly we know: the Earth is totally hip.