I grew up in Oregon. Where it’s green, lush, and there’s always something beautiful to see. Whether it’s the towering green of the ever present pine, or the amber and orange of the autumn altering maples, or any number of creeks, rivers, mountains or hills. In almost any direction you drive there is an ever expanding potential for beauty. But, as with many things in life, familiarity breeds contempt. Or, maybe not so much contempt, but it sure does breed indifference.
Driving back to Oregon last week I literally put my family life’s in danger because my eyes kept wandering off the road. I could not help but be drawn, around every corner, towards sights that I had not laid eyes on in over 5 years. You see, if you know me, you know I’ve been in Arizona for the past 5 years. And while Arizona has it’s own genre of beauty, it simply cannot compare to what you find in Oregon. It’s like in film. There are different genres of films (comedy, drama, horror, action, etc), and for the most part you can appreciate the strengths (and weaknesses) of each genre. But, also for the most part, you don’t normally say, for instance, that the best horror movie is a BETTER film than the best drama movie. When perusing the AFI’s top 100 movies of all time you notice that 8 of the top 10 movies are dramas (the other two? A musical: Singing in the Rain. And The Wizard of Oz… you can classify that on your own). So you might say, for instance, that while Arizona has it’s moments (like Sedona or the Grand Canyon) it is just categorically different than what you find in Oregon. Arizona might contend in the best “Foreign Comedy” category, but when you ask the bigger question about the best state/film, it’s not even close.
But it took me 5 years of surviving the desert to realize this.
Seeing Oregon in the fall right now has seriously made me consider such questions as:
“Is this an unusually colorful fall for Oregon? This can’t be normal, right?”
“Did I ever even look up… or around… when I lived here ages 0-24?”
“Do all these other people walking and driving around SEE what I see?”
The colors are so vibrant. When all you’ve seen for 5 years is different shades of brown, with a spattering of green (I use that word loosely. “Green” in Oregon is a MUCH different color than “green” in Arizona), it’s like your eyes begin to adjust and your visual palette gets dumbed down. Driving around Oregon now is like the few years that I gave up all beverages but water for Lent. After six days of water only, when I would drink coffee on Sunday mornings during Lent, and then have a beer after church, my taste buds would explode with excitement. As though I’d never really tasted coffee or beer before.
And similar to that, seeing Oregon again for the first time is causing my eyes to dance around like an ADHD kid playing laser tag at a cotton candy festival.
That’s all I have for the moment. But soon I want to contemplate how perhaps all this is metaphorical for my own life on a deeper level. I’m sure there is something going on here that parallels the story of my life right now. How, after getting fired from my job of 5 years in Arizona, I’m returning to ‘home’ and seeing things again for the first time. I’m sure there’s a connection between my time in the “desert” with some biblical reference to desert, and waiting, and preparation. But now is not the time for such existential ponderings. For now, it must suffice to just say that Oregon is incredibly beautiful. And as me and my little family begin our healing process, it can only be a good thing to be surrounded by this part of the Master Artist’s masterpiece.
(Here’s just a few pics of our drive, as Kate and I HAD to pull over and capture what we saw)