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Living in a Bubble

May 5, 2014

Something overheard in the library reminded me of a marvelous scene on the way up to Leadville after a night of snow.

It was a perfect Spring snow. The roads were dry but everything else was frosted with snow and ice. Clouds loured, and mists clung to hillsides for many miles. I was virtually alone on the highway. North of Buena Vista on a long straightaway, here comes a car.

But you wouldn’t know it was a car except for the fact that it was moving. It was invisible inside a ball of snow streaming off the car the same way matter streams off a comet or flames off a re-entry vehicle. Closer and closer it came, but still I could not see the car. I hope the view was better from inside, for it continued at highway speed.

But it was funny to see this furious flame of snow whipping down a perfectly clear highway. It was the embodiment of how someone in the library referred to herself—going around all day in her own bubble.

We do this in so many ways one can hardly begin to chronicle it. But we’re not alone—many primates suffer in similar ways. (New to the library is the beautiful “Primates of the World: an illustrated guide” by Jean-Jacques Petter, published by Princeton University Press.)

But I think it’s not only primates. See “Animal Wise: the thoughts and emotions of our fellow creatures” by Virginia Morrell, c2013. There’s more on this, too. Temple Grandin’s “Animals make us human,” c2009, for example.

Or “Unlikely Loves: 43 heartwarming true stories from the animal kingdom” by Jennifer Holland, c2013, although this may just be propaganda for the conspiracy to expand the definition of marriage. (The library has Holland’s first book, “Unlikely Friendships.”)

Sometimes, it seems living in a bubble might be better. Consider the Mandan Indians: “Encounters at the heart of the world: a history of the Mandan people” by Elizabeth Fenn, c2014. They were enormously successful in the northern plains, known for their hospitality, but ultimately European pests and pestilence destroyed their society.

I don’t know that this new book would have helped: “The knowledge: how to rebuild our world from scratch” by Lewis Dartnell, c2014. Should our technological society collapse, how should we start to rebuild? What would you miss? Food, or Google? Smartphones, or plumbing?

Hot water, or just water? “The Improbable Primate: how water shaped human evolution” by Clive Finlayson, c2014, examines in a slim volume the role water might have played in our evolution as the earth’s climate dried.

What we haven’t evolved in our technological society is good posture. Our furniture and electronic devices invite slouching and phone use invites tension and misalignment. Not to mention driving, handwriting, keyboarding, and probably many things we consider healthy.

Natural Posture for Pain Free Living: the practice of mindful alignment” by Kathleen Porter, who uses many photos in examining healthy posture. I like the quote in the beginning from Thich Nhat Hanh: “The miracle is not to walk on water. The miracle is to walk on the earth in peace.”

There’s a quick sample of new books. Another is “The Shelf: from LEQ to LES” by Phyllis Rose, c2014, who picked a shelf from The New York Society Library and read, and reviewed, her way through all the books—obscure foreign novellas, classics, mysteries—a wide range of books across centuries.

And don’t forget “The Public Library: a photographic essay” by Robert Dawson, c2014. Libraries are beautiful.

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