I’ve been fairly disoriented since my return home from New York. There’s something inside me that seems fundamentally different, but after almost a week of pondering I still can’t quite pinpoint what it is or how it feels. New York changed something in me, something yet to be determined or discovered.
One thing I have noted is the transition from the nature-dominated Bay Area to the very urban environment of NYC and back again causes me to feel very different about myself. Here at home, where I walk on a trail almost daily and at the minimum weekly, I am very attuned to my animal nature. In fact, I’m sure I’ve written about this before somewhere, but sometimes I feel convinced that I am an animal just playing at being a human. Somehow I got stuck inside a human body so I fake my way through civilization convincing others of my humanness but not myself.
I didn’t feel that way in New York. I felt very human. I enjoyed all the clever human-made things: subway trains, the entire subway system, architecture, art. I wanted to be inside, I felt a call to interiors of buildings. I felt as if I was curling up inside myself, not in a bad way but in a cozy way. I really forgot my wildness.
When I returned and got my first glance of the serpentine prairie, I was amazed how the beauty didn’t jump out at me. I had gotten so used to looking at art — I spent hours and hours in art museums over the last two weeks — that nature seems monochromatic and dull for a moment. Then I started walking. It wasn’t long before a feeling came over me. It was a feeling of aliveness, of life bursting out all around me in every blade of grass, every rock, every tree, in the air. That tingling, awesome feeling only happens to me in nature. Once I felt that, I saw the beauty again of the surroundings, and I felt the animal side of me awaken.
I am amazed at how completely who I feel I am is so mutable and so influenced by my environment.
Today I came home to California. There was a clear blue sky, bright sunshine, and lush greenery. And somehow I missed New York. Go figure.