Modern technology has given us much in a very short period of time. This blog being a very good example. Not long ago, such a way to communicate would have been only a wish. We have the internet, cell phones, satellite TV, Facebook, Twitter, and so on. Need I even make the list? It’s true that all of these things are fantastic tools for communication, information or entertainment.
We often dwell on these things as trophies of what we have created, and of what we can do. We say, “Look at this cool thing! It did not exist before, but now it does!” What we are really saying is, “Look at us! Aren’t we clever, and lucky to be living in this time.” I agree. Gadgets are cool. We are clever. We are lucky.
Sometimes, however, it’s helpful to dwell not on what we have created, but on what we have lost – the things that used to exist, but no longer do, and I don’t just mean the dodo bird.
We have lost the stars at night, and the silence in the day. We have lost the clear streams, and the forests that surrounded them. We have also lost the grasslands, and the animals that once roamed there.
But we have lost the Great Plains in more ways than one. We have lost it in the real sense of losing the ecosystem and the habitat. We have also lost it from our culture in the sense that these areas of the country are often mocked, and made fun of for being boring or flat or dull. But most importantly, we have lost its essence from our lives, its power. The power is still there, but the knowledge of it, and the opportunity to experience it has been diminished.
Imagination, art, photographs, and literature have all tried to capture the essence of the Great Plains, but great as these things are, it’s not enough. The true essence lies in being able to come in contact with its spaces, its horizons, its winds, its skies, and its wildlife. This is the mission of the Great Plains Trail.