La Mesa Collage Essay

This place has moments of strong silence, where the faintest shuffle seems to fill the air with intensity. I see the silence reflected in the stillness of nearby plants, and the surrounding standing structures of stone.  How many silent moments have fallen upon these stones?  A quick wind suddenly slides its way down the valley, flowing like the distant waters that carved out the valley.  The grasses bob back and forth in the wind as if excited by the change in stasis.  A slight hiss can be heard from every direction as the wind caresses the intricacies of each surrounding shrub.

It feels as if nothing has changed for centuries except for the trash, which looks fairly new.  We have found remnants of wildlife, but none living. The animals have forsaken this plateau. Nothing has changed, and how could it?  This landscape looks too vast for the hands of man to reform it.

However, gradually we have begun.  I can picture a time when nothing could be heard here except the swallows, the wind and your own breath.  A plane flies overhead, and all of these sounds are overpowered.  Like the flute in a marching band – their voices lost.  When we experience chaotic noises, our own voices get lost in the mix.  Our society has grown too loud, and is becoming discomforted by silence.

People have become so alienated from true silence that when in company of others, we feel a constant need to converse.  With silence, for many people, comes anxiety.  How do we reverse this trend on a societal scale?  Individual meditation and journeys into nature can solve the problem, but only for those who are self-motivated and aware of the loudness.

The silence on top of the mesa is like an exquisite piece of glass.  It is shattered routinely by the cries of birds, the whispering wind and the occasional car traveling down the highway.  There is an odd combination of sights up here.  On one hand it feels very remote and wild.  Basalt rocks, small desert shrubs and patches of lichen that almost astonish a person with their loud and noticeable colors cover the plateau.   The only signs of life are a few small rodent droppings and sounds of birds.  I feel insignificant and small standing on the edge, with a sense of uneasiness that comes with the fact that life is impermanent, it could all be over with one false step.

On the other hand if I look west and listen carefully I am reminded of societies great reach.  I can perceive telephone and electrical poles stretching as far as the eye can see.  I can hear the cars roaring down the highway, a never-ending black snake slithering through the hills.  Even in the midst of all the majestic beauty that one can see from the top of La Mesa our civilization stubbornly refuses to be ignored.

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