Often times I can't help but compare myself to explorers that trekked across the mountains and valleys of America hundreds of years ago. But somehow, it seems that riding a motorcycle down paved roads is easier, safer, and more comfortable than the way men discovered these lands originally.
Yet, I still feel inspired at the sight of vast landscapes across the American frontier, just as they might have. I still become swallowed up into the fabric of flora, fauna as one of Earth's meager inhabitants. I think of Meriwether Lewis, documenting what he saw into his journals, and can't help but to see myself in the same way, as I write this blog.
But when I read the Journals of Lewis and Clark, I shake my head in wonder at how brave those men were. Even though I experience the same wonder of discovering new lands and new people, somehow what I'm doing feels a lot more easy.
Am I truly just a product of society? How much of myself is natural instinct, versus external influences, versus the DNA of my ancestry?
I watch this little girl named "Sophia", barely a year and a half old, reach for my smartphone and tap the buttons on its screen. She only did so because the other adults in the living room were busy tapping the buttons on their smartphones too. As a little toddler, nature instilled her with the need to emulate adults. But instead of emulating skills basic to survival, such as digging up roots, or gathering tinder, she was building neural pathways critical for surviving in a technological age.
On the other hand, technological innovation is natural to human beings. It's our brains and hands that make us human, just like stealth and claws that make a cat, or flight and feathers that make a bird. And taking that into consideration, our brains can be influenced by other people, by our surroundings, and the current state of affairs we are in.
I often hear that people today could never survive in the wilderness the way mountain men and explorers did centuries ago. I suppose that's true in that I didn't grow up with up the skills needed to survive in the wild. But that doesn't make me less of a survivor. Our brains were not meant to remain as hunter-gatherers. It wants to take on tougher problems.
That's why human beings built civilizations, engines, and computers. That's why laws get more complicated and why the red tape in Washington DC continues to roll. I think it's also why we have the current political system in the United States. All of these things usher in newer problems and variables for our brains to feast.
I like to think that Lewis and Clark wouldn't know what to do with a Bluetooth headset, Google Maps, or online banking.
Yet strangely, I find myself attracted to the beauty of a desert landscape or mountain range. I still love the quiet of a starry night. There will always be bit of Lewis and Clark in me, even though I don't have skills to deal with the outdoors.