Paved Over Discontent

cc licensed ( BY ) flickr photo shared by cogdogblog

Crossing into the 10,000+ mile range of this trip, I am having a blurry epiphany, whatever the heck that means. I set out on the trip with a goal of “seeing what this country is really about”. While I have traveled far, I in actuality see just the tiinest sliver of a sliver, and most of that is out the car window.

But I am feeling a growing restlessness with the amount of “sameness” one sees everywhere. Yes, many of us rant about the plethora of Big Box strips that ring our cities but also our small towns. Just exactly where is this place?

cc licensed ( BY ) flickr photo shared by cogdogblog

It is everywhere. It is the Plastification of America, the spreading of sameness because it is comfortable, familiar, safe.

I’m feeling there is something corrupting in this, of our culture, uniqueness. I cant really formulate it, but from conversations I have had with a few people, I am just bubbling with something.

It got to me while driving down Interstate 85 yesterday (pictured above). The interstate serves a supposed purpose of faster transport, but it too forces that sameness on us, trapped in our boxes, shielded from towns by rows of trees and strings of fast food chains and fule stations. But it was the denseness of the traffic, the boxed in that got under my skin.

In the morning, I had a glorious drive on a state road, 360 in Virginia, and it was a different, wide open experience:

cc licensed ( BY ) flickr photo shared by cogdogblog

Sure you do not do 75 miles per hour, but there is no one boxing you in, and you see real homes, farms, places like McGill’s store, a front yard filled with Halloween Zombies, small towns with real main streets. Cows. Barns. Abandoned Churches.

cc licensed ( BY ) flickr photo shared by cogdogblog

cc licensed ( BY ) flickr photo shared by cogdogblog

It felt… Sunny

cc licensed ( BY ) flickr photo shared by cogdogblog

So I pulled off I85. I set my GPS to avoid highways. Sure it made my journey an hour longer, but I felt lighter. Joyous. I was drinking in the landscape.

So again, I don’t know what to do with this sense of discontent. But I am tired of being part of something plastic, paved over. Now I cannot be a hermit, and I do have to purchase my gas, and do partake of the boxes in some degree. But I find myself seeking the places that lack this shellac.

They exist because we feed them.

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An early 90s builder of web stuff and blogging Alan Levine barks at CogDogBlog.com on web storytelling (#ds106 #4life), photography, bending WordPress, and serendipity in the infinite internet river. He thinks it's weird to write about himself in the third person. And he is 100% into the Fediverse (or tells himself so) Tooting as @cogdog@cosocial.ca


  1. What a beautiful post. I have often lamented the creation of the no-place. I find airports to be right up there with the box stores. You can literally be dropped into the middle of one of them and not know where you are in the world. The predictability may be comforting, but who wants the same thing all the time? It infiltrates our landscape, our tastebuds, our radio stations, our political system… and if we’re not careful, our imagination. You’re right – we need to feed the animal that lives outside the box, and with any luck, that animal will rise up like godzilla!

  2. Take it one step further, get out of the cage and ride those secondary roads on a motorcycle. Ot helps connect you with the landscape just a little more.

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