The hum of the road brings out the philosopher in me

Last night as we drove south on Highway 37 toward Port Aransas, we passed by what Toyin and I guessed was an oil refinery. It stretched for several miles and was lit up like a small city. The individual lights burned brightly like Christmas lights on a tree, glowing with serenity. The steam pumped out across the sky forming a soft burnt cloud-like smog across the city. It was — dare I say it and offend my environmental sense — quite beautiful.

It was like a small city within itself. It hummed with a sense of a tiny, organized ecosystem within a ragingly disorganized and painfully expansive system.

Ever since the oil spill along the coast, I only saw the negative impact of the oil pumping along the coast. Because of the oil spill, ocean life has been damaged, food sources have been lost, livelihoods are threatened, entertainment and vacation spots will be ruined. There is much to be lost because of this oil spill. It is sad. It is painful for our world. I get that.

But as we drove in the darkness while Annika slept, the sight of the oil refinery struck me with wonder and knowledge. It is its own tiny point of light and a movement of evolution in itself. Oil provides a way of life. It is a natural resource that we use to power things that are necessary for daily life in this century. I don’t know about you, but I like lights and motor vehicles.

Maybe it was the darkness and the hum of the road that lends itself to seeing beauty in the openness of the unknown ahead of us. Maybe it was the silence of the sleeping child that one learns to enjoy to its fullest because you never know how long it will last. Maybe it was the beauty of the lights against the velvety sky. Maybe it was the smell of the ocean or the anticipation of vacation.

I’m not a religious woman, but I did grow up “in” the Church of Christ, as we put it. Three times a week for 18 years of my life I worshiped the Lord. I am very familiar with the teaching of Christ.

When we drove past that oil refinery all of these thoughts roiled through my head and I murmured, “One things dies so another may live.” It was all very metaphoric.

Today we spent the morning at the beach and once again I was struck by another ecosystem inside a larger one. The smaller ecosystem inside water that pools in between the beach and the edge of the rolling tide. It is a miniature system that is formed of the same things that forms the ocean, but it is more closely connected, more intense. It is the dregs of the ocean that are moving closer together to make their own tiny society of kelp, seaweed, gravel, shells, tiny fish and salt water.

Watching these newer, smaller ecosystems at work, the way they take what is there and mold something new that resembles its maker is like watching a child grow and become.

Become what? Just become. Become who they will be. Become the essence of you, your genetics, your childhood environment, your talents and your failings. For better or worse, they are our oil spills and our miniature oceanic ecosystems, taking what the world gives them and reworking it.

I wish I had some pictures for you but alas, I did not take pictures of either one. And, I forgot my cable for the camera. But hang tight because I’m going to try to find one tonight and instead of oil refineries and tiny pools of fish I have some pictures of a tree with tits! God I love Texas.


  1. Chuck says:

    May 22, 2010 at 4:27 pm

    Pain and injury have their own validity and beauty.

    I don't mean that in a creepy way — I don't enjoy pain or injury — but they are just as real as anything and should be accepted as valid and true.

    Just a tangent.

  2. Martha says:

    May 24, 2010 at 8:57 am

    I totally agree with you Chuck. In fact, I think pain and injury add to the beauty of the world. Without one, we wouldn't have the other.

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