Holy Aware

Holy Aware September 23, 2011

I love hiking in the desert (when it is below 90 degress…). I live in the north valley near several mountain preserve areas, so finding a nice trail is as easy as pulling over, or walking a block and stepping over a fence. Desert trails are mostly dusty and rocky though, and for all of the beauty of my surroundings, i catch myself looking down alot. Not that the trails around here are especially strenuous… Just that there’s lots of loose terrain, and a misstep–especially going downhill, and especially if you’ve got a dog or baby (or both) in tow, would be bad news. Also, i hate snakes. And while i’ve never encountered one on a hike around here (knock on stucco) I know they are watching me. Every little skitter and slither i hear in the wilderness around me becomes, in my wild imagination, something reptilian of Amazon proportions. So yeah, I look down.

Sometimes we get this way… we don’t know what’s next, we don’t know what’s coming at us from any given side, experience with a fall (or a predator) has made us hyper-sensitive to falling hazards… It’s sad, but it happens. No matter how many wonderful and lovely things are going on around and above us, we are compelled to look down. We miss alot of great scenery that way.

Have you heard the term “space trash” in news banter over the past few days? It sounds like a really great band name to me, or else the next big thing in social media. But no…space trash is what happens when our bravest and most innovative technology ages, and begins to crash down around our heads. NASA says that over the next day or two, pieces of an old satellite will be entering our atmosphere and falling to earth. No wait…plumetting to earth.  That’s much more dramatic. They won’t be able to give much notice, and will only be able to narrow the landing area to a few thousand miles or so. But no biggie–your chances of being in the VERY wrong place at the wrong time are about one in 3200.

That actually means you’re more likely to be hit with space trash than you are to be struck by lightning. Or winning the lottery.

I guess that should be pretty sobering to me, but i just keep picturing the Coyote getting nailed by a whistling anvil.

The lesson for the day? LOOK UP! Watching the ground all the time does not protect you from every danger or unexpected mishap. I guess that is to say…if you’re going to get hit by space trash, you might as well enjoy the view in the  meantime.

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  • Your post made me think of these lines from the song “As Is” by Ani diFranco:

    “Cause when I look around
    I think this, this is good enough
    And I try to laugh
    At whatever life brings
    Cause when I look down
    I just miss all the good stuff
    When I look up
    I just trip over things”

  • FWIW, I think the 1 in 3200 statistic has got to be wrong. I heard it, too. There are what, seven billion people on the Earth. If each of them has a 1 in 3200 chance of being hit by space junk, then surely several people will be killed. I think there is a 1 in 3200 chance that someone will be hit by space junk. We each are probably more likely to be hit by lightening than falling satellite debris.

  • Oh, and I know it is totally not the point of your post, which is a beautiful reflection on how to live our lives. But that number had been bothering me so I thought I would share.

    • that number makes much more sense to me, as well. i’m pretty sure that’s what they meant, but nobody has been very clear about it. i still think my coyote/anvil image works better if there’s a legitimate threat 🙂