Alien Nation

The air-conditioning is set to 62F. The new couch allows you to watch on-demand television from a fully reclined position. Its arm holds a snack plate well. Your drink won’t spill either. A cup holder? Yeah. Maybe.

The video you’ve just watched suggests another video, closely related, and will autoplay it if you just sit still for a moment and endure a brief dose of advertisement. There. That didn’t hurt, did it?

The doorbell is ringing. It’s the food you ordered. They have your regular order and credit card stored, so that only took half-a-minute. Just in case it’s not the delivery guy, you can call up the front door cam on your phone and check. Nope. It’s him. Twenty steps to the front door and you have pizza. Twenty steps back to the couch.

Dominos Pizza Delivery Robot Image: Dominos Australia

At bedtime, the sheets are one million thread count. They’re made by computers from machine harvested cottons that come from another continent. The pillow is hypoallergenic and has an anatomical curve to it, the better to support your neck. It is woven through with copper fibers that will cool as the night goes by, no need to flip.

Life still has its travails, but it’s hard to see them. Maybe they mainly live between our ears, where all that ease and comfort still fails to soothe whatever it is inside us that wants more.

Most animals build homes. Some even put what looks like inordinate time and energy into the process, but could it be true that no other animal works so hard to isolate itself from the world it lives in than we do?

This is not me preaching. I live in a house. My family and I are very comfortable. In fact, this thing I do where I’m constantly going to the woods and then writing about it, as if it’s a special thing, underlines just how alienated I am too.

I have this hunch though, that the things bothering us, the unfulfilled wants, the surfeit stress, the interpersonal conflict, can be treated by reconnecting to the outdoors, and it’s probably not necessary to be tough, or hardcore, or rad, or even to smell like patchouli. To me, it feels like we just need to stay connected to what’s going on outside, maybe learn the names of the trees in our yards or notice the birds nesting there. Maybe we just need to grow something. Anything. And maybe we just need to move, quickly or slowly, and let our bodies remember what it feels like to move through the world, instead of away from it.

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