Living On The Edge Of The Western World

I live in San Francisco, just 6 blocks from the Pacific Ocean, on the very edge of the Western world…Whenever I walk out my door, I can see the bright blue ocean and the rolling white surf pounding the shoreline, and the waves gently washing up on the beach…. It is a beautiful and majestic sight…..

The viewpoint here is profoundly different from my birthplace in Chicago, Illinois, in the heart of the land locked Midwest, although even then I was nestled close to the comfort of the huge Lake Michigan, one of the five Great Lakes, and visited the water often..

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Water has always been a source of comfort to me, affording the luxury of contemplation, and even though I was raised near Lake Michigan, when i fly back there, despite the presence of the Great Lakes, i cannot help but notice from the airplane how very flat the entire Midwest really is…Actually driving throughout these states, which I have done, only reinforces the flat insularity of this region, and perhaps partially explains why people think the way they do back there…

The Midwest is all locked together like pieces in a jig saw puzzle, all the flat agricultural Midwestern states, like Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, Wisconsin, the breadbasket of the country, and when you drive back there you are lucky to see a hill, let alone a mountain or a cliff….Life there is ruled by the weather and by the raising of crops to feed the country, a totally noble and necessary occupation….

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But living in San Francisco, I am also always acutely aware of the fragility of human life, of the proximity of a whole ocean of water just blocks from my house, from the reality that far past the visible horizon lies the exotic, inscrutable East, countries like Japan, Korea, China, in fact all of Asia… I feel a definite link, a sure, strong connection to the other side of the world from my viewpoint here on the edge of the western world and the far shores of the eastern world….It is real, and the connection is inescapable…..

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There is a different perspective, living here on the west coast, on the edge of the Western world, a feeling of unity and togetherness, a realization that we are all people on one fragile planet, and that the rugged mountains, hills and rocky cliffs of the West coast are infinitely different from, yet remarkably similar to, their counterparts on the other side of the world, maybe even more so than their geographical sister states in the Midwest…

You can actually SEE the curvature of the earth if you stand on the sands of the shore of the Pacific ocean and gaze westward, the sky is like a big bright blue inverted bowl, and the notion that if you dared to sail over the edge of the horizon that you would inevitably fall off the planet is laughable now, even though it was accepted as common knowledge before Christopher Columbus dared to make his brave, epic some said foolhardy voyage and proved that the world was indeed round…

The knowledge that we are all together, linked together not only by the ocean but by the atmosphere itself, becomes tremendously important from my daily point of view…All the petty wars and land grabs and power struggles that have dominated human history since time has been recorded seem both very remote and far away, and yet ever present, and not just in time, because they are still happening today.

But it is all inherently, tragically WRONG in the very concept, it is a seriously flawed model of the real world order…What we need to do is be really realistic, and adopt a real life, real time viewpoint, one of peace, togetherness and harmony that we should all be striving for, not the advancement of some particular political or religious viewpoint, but a viewpoint that reflects the reality of our short life spans on planet Earth….

There is no getting around it, we are all members of the same planet, and the vivid reality of this knowledge is hammered home to me every single day by the perspective of living on the edge of the Western world…I sometimes wonder if our counterparts on the other side of the Pacific ocean feel the same way when they gaze out eastwards to the invisible continent of America?…

They surely must, because in the end, it is not about nations or countries but about the symbiosis between the planet and it’s elements, the water, the sky, the atmosphere and of course including all the people living here today, this day, today, on this planet we call Earth….

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Sometimes I feel like sending a message in a bottle, just cast it into the ocean and wonder if it will be able to survive the thousands of miles of water that separates San Francisco from Japan, exactly 5,133 miles or 8,2701 kilometers, whatever that means…(Like most Americans I have no clue about the metric system, all apologies to my foreign viewers, we were just never taught the subject.)

It is just like geography, most Americans cannot even name our own 50 states let alone tell you how far away or exactly where these far Eastern countries are on the map. But the point is that they DO exist, and whenever I fling a rock that has washed up on the beach back into the water, I wonder if some counterpart of mine is doing exactly the same thing, at exactly the same time, on the other side of the world…hmm…

The concept truly boggles the mind, but it is in a strange way, it is very comforting to realize and know for certain that we are all indeed inextricably linked in, tied together, that we are all here for just a short time, and that we all need to do our part to save the planet, from the polluters, the greedy industrialists, the war mongers, the religious zealots, because this planet does not belong to them, it was never meant for them…

It exists for us, it exists for you and me, and it is this certain knowledge that it is our responsibility to ensure the preservation of the planet…

It is all crystal clear, living here, on the edge of the Western world…..

Just leave it like it is right now

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