February 1, 2008 – Musings from Tomorrow

“Musings from tomorrow” means simply that I’m going to expand on some thoughts that were prompted from traveling home from tomorrow’s Iowa Network for Community Agriculture Conference.  I’m not time traveling, just putting some blog entries out of order.  Since the blogging police don’t seem to care, as long as the transgressions are confessed, I’ll just go ahead.

The conference was a time to think about those things that get neglected in the necessity of everyday life.  Actually, I wasn’t truly conscious that I was having this moment until I got home.  Then the cacophony of everyday life unleashed itself.  Noise.  Whistling. Radios. Two or three simultaneous conversations.  In other words, a normal night at home. I’m not sure if the energy of the evening was greater since we were gone all day, or if the contrast was greater after a day of generally listening to one person talk at a time and reflecting on the thoughts presented.

On the drive home we were traveling on a road I had not traveled in some time.  Being out of the regular routine, the landscape seemed to open itself more to me than the landscape I travel in my routine.  It wasn’t any more or less remarkable than the landscape I regularly travel – just different and not so engrained.  It allows you to “see” more than you do on your own well-traveled routes.

Coming home from work on Thursday, I had a similar experience.  I needed to run some errands to locations I hadn’t been before.  Finally, traveling back onto the oft-traveled roads, the fact that I entered the roadway at a different place made the place seem different.  Somehow the usual visual cues were different.  It made familiar places seem unfamiliar – just due to the fact that the journey started at a different place.

Both traveling over “new” land and traveling over “old” land from a different starting point gave me a different perspective.  I wonder what the consequences are to a person who repeatedly follows the same pathways – whether they be roads, habits, or actions?  Does this expand to a cultural level as well?  Is that one of the reasons that we are so unwilling or unable to try things that are out of the ordinary?  Is that why nobody at the Marshalltown farmer’s Market would buy the chocolate-colored peppers or cylindricla beets? Is that why old solutions are tried first to solve new problems?  If simply driving on a seldom-traveled road, or going onto an often-traveled road can give a whole new feeling, how does this play out for larger cultural shifts, or lack of progress?

I found it interesting that the feeling on the seldom-traveled road was much more enjoyable than traveling the oft-traveled road from a new perspective.  I was surprised and a bit uneasy that the road seemed unfamiliar, just because I started at a new spot – it took a while to really figure out that I really was in the right place.  Humans seem to have a strange fascination with seeking novelty and the need for predictability.  The interplay of this at a cultural and personal level must be what really gets sociologists excited.  I just wonder how the daily entrenchment of our daily lives wires our brains.  Is this why it sometimes takes a near-catastrophic event for a person or culture to change -whether it be a cancer survivor finding an unquenching zest for life, a recently unemployed person to examine their life from a whole new perspective, or a nation teetering on a great calimity to work together to find a new solution or new country?

I’ve rambled long enough.  I hope this makes sense to me in the morning!

one year ago…

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