Like a sedated snail, I attempt to take all of this in. Recently, I acquired a photograph of the largest sequoia located in Sequoia National Park in Visalia, California. Although captured in a picture, I still stretched my neck out to take all of it in. Just imagine maintaining your posture for 3,000 years. Now, visualize surviving fires, logging, and the infiltration of curious climbers. I complain when my morning writing routine is interrupted. Envision bursts of unexplained weather and flash photography.
We are electric in ways outside of the neon magic of fireflies. Our palms glow not from poems pushed into our life lines, rather the rectangular-shaped devices we’ve grown addicted to. Cell phones. Various versions of computers, laptops…even pads are no longer yellow with turquoise lines and paper cuts. Now, they may be plugged in too. Traveling home from a long day of work, I practice mathematics by counting each human plugged in to their chosen electronic devise.
When was the last time you stood still? And did you notice the curvature of that tree? The way its bark has peeled off in layers, offering a peak at its greenish skin. There are shapes in its flesh, far more interesting than that song you just downloaded.
When was the last time you collected leaves instead of phone numbers of people you are too busy to call anyway? I want to lie down in this soil, before it freezes over and it’s too late to scoop it all up and sprinkle it over me. Exhaustion slurps my cells, but I realize this sleepiness is connected to living. I forego an extra hour of sleep to poem. I challenge the midnight moon to a staring contest, rather than hiding inside my room and weeping against the confusion of my body.
And what is long enough? How do I know when it is ok to walk away? Away from that image of sunrise slurred against the sky like a drunk beauty. How do I know when I’ve looked at something hard enough with just the hazel of my eyes. The only lens between us are my glasses. No cameras are needed (sometimes).
I am staring. I am staring at you and you do not notice because you are staring at your cell phone. You are checking in to a place online, letting everyone know where you are without experiencing it in its live version. I want to kiss you but you are LIKEing something over a lit screen. I want to hold your hand, but it’s turned into something less human. It vibrates. It plays music now. It’s a map. The flesh is gone.
Memorize the scent of humanity in the air. Practice breathing with the rhythm of birds chirping or wind tapping. There is so much beauty to be found by unplugging oneself and recognizing the live-action photographs happening right in front of you. I put away that picture of the President tree and flirt with the one just outside my window. There are still a few leaves left on its skinny branches. It’s wide and so still. And in this moment, so am I.