I used to think the pioneering days of the expanded west were so amazing- where there was no distraction from the breeze through your hair, the dirt under your feet, and the open expanse calling for homestead. Laura Ingalls Wilder painted scenes of a life that I could grab with all of my senses and consume until my heart and mind became full. And as a young girl, growing up in the 70's and 80's in a island suburb surrounded by farmland, better known to locals as heart land, I ate all of the Little House on The Prairie Series up. The voice that Laura shared of her and her families experiences as they dawned the open frontier was intoxicating, quite the different sense of life and self that I held in my ordered, planned out, suburban life. In many ways suburb did more to describe the fortresses built into our our lives to avoid risk and chance and less to do with terms of city planning. Much of what I lived seemed ordered and destined. Her adventure was crafted by earth and sun and predator and water and all of the ingenuity that she and her family could slap towards living their lives.
I enjoyed reading and living through her adventures, yet as a young girl, I assumed that all of the pioneering to be done, had been done - because by the time that I arrived in the world, the land had been claimed, ordered, and tamed. As much as I loved hearing about how they strapped things into the covered wagon and traversed through my heartland, I assumed that the kind of pioneering and taming that those who lived alongside Laura was long finished. So it was a treat to slip back into the descriptions of a time when the effort and connection of life was seamlessly tied to the farm and to the table. The heartiness of work was tethered to space and time in a way that was different than my 1980s. It was as if the bounty of the harvest and the the hinges of mother nature were the absolute that those of the time drank. There was no doubt that the dreams and ideas of pioneers' thought and mind were present, but the absolute living that the immediate environment demanded rarely allowed for the luxury of perceiving beyond the the flesh that they held and honed. The definition of reality was bestowed primarily by the farmer's almanac and life was grown around it.
Much time has passed since Laura, her family, and all those of her generation. These years were filled with prescriptive innovation, history, and culture that have opened a pandora's box. I wonder if Laura, or some in her time questioned what it means to be human the way I have? I wonder if she had a sense of distinction between thinking, feeling, and acting the way I do? It may seem like a bit of an absurd question - but I wonder this as people of Laura's time dug their fingers into the dirt and people of my time push our fingers into the keys that forward life and experience into a virtual, digital "cloud?" As innovation arrives, there is an increasing blurring of formerly drawn expectations and boundaries, and sometimes an all out dump. The mastery of planning and order that suburban America produced has become one of the most noticeable discards of present day living.
I never realized that the stories of the simple, the concrete, the pies and farm animals and covered wagons would come to hold the yearning for an absolute that cannot be found in America in 2018. When science affords us the capacity to travel into, through, and all around the human experience, when innovation takes us on an adventure that integrates human and machine in ways never formerly fathomed, there is what first feels like a void. However, as I sit or stand in this place in space longer, I am beginning to realize that that it is much less a void, and more a new territory to be traversed. While I may be less likely to come across earth worms, melting candle tallow and bubbling brooks, I am going to unearth that which is most universal to human experience - the determination to adapt and progress. As a young girl, as much as I categorized Laura Ingalls Wilder and her generation as the only pioneers, I was short sighted. To be human is to be a pioneer. To be at the center of your space and time and resource, and to be at the helm of your story is human.
Melinda is a recovering "normal" seeker, who is often distracted by unexpected moments of nature's beauty or questioning children