Wednesday, December 29, 2010

awesome americans

i started this whole blog idea thinking about being an american, and being patriotic - what that means, and what it doesn't mean, and how it all came to be.

it was living in germany that made me realize two things: that i am, irreversibly, an american through and through; and that i was ok with that.

but this same process happened before, too. i've learned this lesson before.

growing up, it seemed that our existence - out on the corner of the country - was nothing but irrelevant. news was something that happened somewhere else - the midwest, the east. politics, government - the northeast. arts & culture all came from europe. popular culture came from southern california. sports, events, everything - came from somewhere else.

and, in many ways, we didn't even fit into the west. the coastal edge of oregon and washington are an anomaly in the west. not dry. not open. not the typical home of the western archetypes, cowboys. liberal politically and open to government and laws. no one came to experience the west. no ski resorts with hollywood types, no dude ranches. nothing to entice the wealthy easterner or southerner to visit.

feeling irrelevant, and as if everything of value came from away, and loving art, i was a europhile. i wanted only to get to europe, to real culture, civilization, and relevance.

but in high school, i was exposed to a whole new batch of americans, through books and art, ones that made me realize that we had something to offer, that we had contributed something to the world stage other than bravado, empty promises of freedom and success (forced under the guise of war), and optimism. this coincided with trips around the west to visit national parks, where i found a landscape of unsurpassed beauty and joy.

awesome americans - and the national park service - drew me into loving america and loving being american for several years.

so, i've decided to do an occasional series of my personal inspirations. my awesome americans. they don't have to be significant to anyone else, and i'm not even trying to convince other people that they are worthy of their love, too. it's just a way to celebrate and remember the people who led me to recognize some of the amazing contributions we've had.

top of the list & first up: kurt vonnegut, who wrote a body of literature that has never been surpassed for me in terms of honesty, realism, and sweetness. and who could only have been american. not very exciting, perhaps, but coming soon.

1 comment:

  1. looking forward to it! this will be exciting!