Empty Days

Thursday, September 02, 2004



Post-wilderness depression.

I am pretty sure this is a common phenomenon - people who return from pure nature to the urban mayhem are likely to go through a crisis of disgust and deep revulsion towards everything human. It's 2:30am and I woke up with visions of mountains in my mind and a sense of desperation due to being back to this fucking hell.

I've always had a strong unconfirmed suspicion that my endless suicidal moods and my pervasive unhappiness were due in no small measure to my being stuck in the city - this trip showed just how right I was about this. I had moments in deep woods up north where I found myself crying hot tears while biking - because the natural world is so unspeakably beautiful and I've been kept so far removed from it all my life. This mostly happened when I got to see wild animals up close - lots of deer and one baby-bear who took off into the bushes when he saw me approaching. Way up north the bike trail remains empty for most of the day (at least off season - I am glad I didn't go in July) so I had it all for myself and the animals have not yet learned to avoid people altogether. Some deer took off, others stayed put, letting me go by only at a few feet distance. The innocence of wild animals and of nature in general is beyond description - to me it proved almost heartbreaking.

These are images that are stuck in my head now and it's like a painted screen through which I dimly distinguish the "usual" reality I have to live in. The fact that the landlord had cut down the only tree in our backyard (which was there probably before the building was even built) is symbolic of what it is like in the city - humans are perverted ugly bastards obsessed with green paper, that's the basic premise of collective human existence these days and I really wish somebody showed me otherwise. In small towns it's a bit different - there is still a sense of community that is not exclusively based on money-making, especially for blue-collar folks who mostly live there. They might be unwelcoming to strangers but they have a pretty strong sense of being part of the "country" and are pretty protective of it - which is a good thing, for all I know: somebody must resist all that endless "economic development".

*

It's very hard for me to describe just how happy I felt at times when I was completely alone there - amidst all that beauty. What I can describe is the sudden onset of depression whenever I approached a densely populated area - this first happened when I reached the end of the trail in a medium-size town 200km up north (Mont-Laurier) and at first I didn't even understand why my mood took such a plunge there when I saw all those shopping malls and cars and people. But it was simply because I once again found myself in an urban area. The same thing got repeated when I got back to the Montreal metropolitan area yesterday - the same sudden low that got progressively worse the deeper I went into the city. For me the formula seems very simple, really: city is hell.





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