Observations From the 30-Thousand-Foot View
Looking out the small window of the 737 as it flew into San Jose Airport I saw one thing: Sameness.
Miles and miles of sameness. It was as if someone took a house-shaped cookie cutter and laid out millions of identical little houses on cookie sheets made of grass, bordered by roads of concrete and asphalt. Hundreds of thousands of cars zoomed in between the green blocks of sameness.
Looking out that window, I felt surprise. Surprise I’d lived in the middle of all that sameness for so many years and never realized how “same” it looked from above. The “30-thousand-foot view”, to use an already overused term, is one of sameness. I was a small part of that sameness for so many years and never ever comprehended it; it all appears somewhat unique from street level.
The familiarity of the sameness was warm and comforting, like a favorite soft blanket. The traffic, not so much. The traffic was more like an itchy wool blanket with moth holes. The convenience of having all manner of stores and restaurants within a few miles of my location at any given time felt luxurious. But that convenience is a double-edged sword: When you don’t have to go far to get anything you need, you rarely, if ever, venture out of the sameness. All you ever experience is sameness.
A young man of about 17 sat next to me on the flight to San Jose. He was from a small town near Gulf Port, Mississippi. He’d only left Gulf Port once as a kid, also a trip to San Jose. He was nervous and afraid he would be perceived as a “hick” (his word, not mine) in the Bay Area. He was Asian and didn’t have any accent, southern or otherwise. I tried to convey what a melting pot the Bay Area is, how he’d fit right in, but I sensed he was unconvinced. On top of that, his cousin had just been accepted to Yale, and he felt “less than”.
How does a
29-year-old “worldly” lady express how little education means when compared to experiencing life and the world? I’ve worked with many “educated” people who couldn’t find their way out of a paper bag with a flashlight and GPS because they’d never experienced anything other than that sameness. Not that I’m the poster child for the Best Lived Life, but in my experience, following your dream rather than giving up to convention means more than anything. And I still feel like I haven’t been anywhere; there is so much more for me to see and do. I only hope I get to do it all in this lifetime.
The young man asked what I recommended he see while in San Jose. Knowing he’d lived a fairly sheltered life in a small community, I suggested he try three restaurants: Indian, Greek, and Middle Eastern. He’d never tasted food like that before. And if he could get his family to make the drive, I suggested visiting the Monterey Bay Aquarium, and taking a whale watching cruise. I have no idea if he did any of those things, but I hope he did. I suspect those experiences are better than anything Yale could dish out.
Another thing I noticed in the Bay Area, it seems Teslas are now like opinions – everyone has one. But I didn’t see one King Ranch Ford F-350, the country equivalent of a Tesla. Not one.
Every Ending Is a New Beginning
I was in San Jose for a few days to visit family and take care of some business. There were a couple family birthday parties, and I’m glad I had the opportunity to be there. It was a whirlwind trip, and I apologize to all the friends I didn’t get to see.
And I finally emptied the storage unit I’d been keeping all this time. It’s good in many ways, but sad in others. A tad on the sentimental side (Really? Kernut sentimental? <—dripping with sarcasm), it was hard to let some of the “things” go, but it was time.
Being back in Cow-Chicken-Oil town, I’m starting to feel some of the “sameness”, but on a different level. It feels like a sameness without stuff: few choices of restaurants and even fewer choices of stores. There is also a lack of traffic and noise. No airplanes overhead. No Teslas.
Like the releasing of long-held views or mementos that are no longer needed, it’s time to change this view, too. No idea when or where I’ll head next, but there are many signs that it’s time to journey to a new place. It’s time for a change of sameness.
Not All Change Is Welcome
Speaking of change, yesterday Yahoo! informed all of it’s contributors of many years they are closing the Contributor Program and will be removing content. I’m shocked and saddened. Shocked they intend to delete an incomprehensible amount of content from thousands of faithful contributors spanning nine years. Saddened because I enjoyed writing those pieces, and will miss that venue.
While they’re still available (until July 31), take the opportunity to read and share the Yahoo! articles I’ve written, all listed in The Reason I’m not all here…. (I do make a penny or two each time someone reads them.)
Want to voice a protest about the removal of content? You can write to firstname.lastname@example.org . Or perhaps another news agency would like to discuss the story? I’m a bit surprised I hadn’t heard anything about it before or since the announcement.