A couple months ago I took a week-long vacation to the beautiful state of Colorado. A good friend and I hopped in the car and made the 15 hour drive from our home in Chicago across the heartland to the beckoning mountains. It takes a real optimist to enjoy road trips, from the leg numbing stillness to the gas station meals, it isn’t exactly the most comfortable way to travel... There’s one thing about driving through the endless cornrows and cattle fields that I find magnetic though.
I must digress momentarily to present the transcendentalist conception of nature. They believed that in wilderness - land untouched by humans - there was divinity. They believed the unbound beauty and overwhelming awesomeness of wilderness was a manifestation of the God that created it. And there were few natural features that inspired the transcendentalists as much as the mountains, which makes sense. To them, not only did the mountains reach into the heavens, but on a mountain, a man is very near the edge of his world and the next. One misstep and that could become quite apparent; one life is insignificant in the shadow of a mountain. These mountains were my destination on this road trip. I intended to spend a week decompressing from the daily grind of life in Chicago and to reflect on what was significant, and what was superficial, although it seemed at the time that both were causing me stress.
Between my wild destination and my urban origins, I found myself on the interstate. On I-80, several miles from anything in particular, staring at the shadow of our car slide along the drainage ditch between road and endless American heartland, was where I was struck with a feeling similar to what I imagine the transcendentalists felt, an acute smallness in the presence of something so much bigger than yourself, whether that be God, wilderness, the city, or in my case, somewhere in between. Even here, in the middle of nowhere, it was comfortably poignant knowing there wasn’t a square inch of land in sight that hadn’t been touched by man.
Here's a short song for long road trip feels, and a few tracks to accompany it if you'd like. Enjoy Mt. Joy's "Astrovan".