The "Great West" (As I See It)


       In going through old hand-written notes and observations I recently found in an old file folder, I decided I could use some of these notes for blogs, mainly because to me these observations so beautifully describe what I see and feel when traveling America’s Great West. I live in Michigan, but I have loved the West my whole life. I have studied it, explored it, written about it, and I truly believe I lived it somewhere in the past, either as a pioneer or a Native American. It is all so real and important and beloved to me. I wrote these descriptions a good 30 to 40 years ago, and I think my love for the West comes through in these notes.

        (No date – just hand-written observations on old, yellowed paper)


       The silence here is total – unequalled. If one were to live in a vacuum, it could not be more silent. My ears are accustomed to the sounds of the rush of everyday life – to automobiles, radios, children babbling, TV, footsteps, barking dogs, slamming doors, the click of a typewriter, the quiet rumble of a clothes dryer or a furnace, telephones ringing, rustling leaves, semi trucks on a distant highway, a train horn blaring someplace far off, voices drifting from a neighbor’s back yard – on and on. But the silence here is such that it actually hurts my ears, ears that have never known the absence of sound.

       In some ways this temporary silence is a relief to me, for my ears sometimes get tired of “hearing” things. Noise can be as tiring as physical strain. But here there is no noise, and if I did not know better, I would think that there is also no life of any kind here. You cannot even hear the wind, for there are no trees whose leaves would rustle. The wind is more of a soft moan, as though aching to find those trees.

      I feel like I am on the moon. There is only dry earth here, and an abundance of rocks. There is a great, blue sky and a round, hot sun - and silence. I feel small and alone, and if I should call out, no one would hear me but the lizards and the hidden prairie dogs. How can one describe such vast emptiness to someone who has never seen it . . . or has never known such absence of sound? I could run all day, and all night, and all the next day, and for days after that, and still there would be no human in sight, or even a sign of one.


       The ”Great West,” as some call it, most certainly deserves the adjectives “great,” “massive,” “immense,” “magnificent,” “endless,” “panoramic,” “spectacular.” How many words are there to describe it? Not enough. It is a land like no other. And it pulls at me, beckons me to return. I feel as though I am destined to it, feel as though I once lived here. It is something that must be seen to be believed or understood, and even then, one has trouble grasping its vastness, simply because it is almost beyond human comprehension, just as the trillions of stars and endless “nothing” of outer space is also incomprehensible. Such things are the answer to “Is there a God?”


       I wonder at the brave endurance of both the Indian and the pioneer at surviving in such lonely desolation. I know I am small, and that in spite of the technological age in which I live, I am still at the mercy of God and the elements . . . and the land. I am but a spec of life, here in the middle of lifelessness, here in a land that was not formed in just a few years, but land that was carved into the face of the earth over hundreds of millions of years.

       And so, I wonder of what importance my short life will be when I put it into those proportions, and I believe I must do one great thing before I die. Hopefully, that will be to write stories that will make people realize what a great Nation we live in, and to make them love and respect America’s Great West. More . . . to make them understand what a waste it would be to over-populate, exploit and destroy one of God’s most precious creations. It is big and endless and will be just as strong and silent and vast and resilient and beautiful over more millions of years, long after man has succeeded in destroying human life. The lizards and prairie dogs and snakes and mule deer and buffalo and wild horses will still be roaming the Great West.


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