I Am A Small Human In A Large Landscape

Yes, hello. It is I, the lone person at the far left of the Instagram photo you’re currently looking at.

I chose to stand at this spot for several reasons, not the least of which being the aesthetic value of this particular place. You may notice how the natural environment dwarfs me, making this photo a metaphor for humankind’s relativity to the greater world and/or universe. We are but a blip in the vast timeline of existence, a single brushstroke in a complex composition.

Of course you also understand this because you have been to Zion National Park and looked up at these skyscraper canyon walls and thought about how big the universe is, just as I am doing now.

Do I come here often? I guess you could say that, if by “here” you mean a space of solitude, introspection, and wisdom, somewhere in the outdoors, when the light is good. I often ask a friend to take photos of me in a position similar to the one I’m in right now, using my phone and shooting several different perspectives of the same pose, just in case I need more photos of myself looking small in big places later in the year on a day when I am only doing unspectacular things like my laundry.

What am I thinking right now, in this spot? Maybe I am thinking about what John Muir would have thought in this same spot. Or I am thinking about what John Muir wrote while thinking about a completely different area of the world, and how it might apply to the caption of this photo when I upload it.

If the John Muir quote doesn’t fit, perhaps I will find a way to relate this photo of me to our greater struggles in life, which are numerous, or maybe just type something about my personal struggles, which are actually quite numerous when viewed in light of the calming beauty of this scene I’m posing in.

Maybe I’ll just write “This place is fuckin huge,” because it is. In fact, if someone asked me about all the places I go to take photos, I suppose you could paraphrase the basic takeaway of all of it by saying, “It’s huge out there. It’ll make you think about some deep shit.” Or, “As John Muir once said, ‘It’s huge out there. It’ll make you think about some deep shit.’”

This, I suppose, is the whole point of coming here: to get a photo that communicates the vastness of this environment, humans’ relative insignificance in that environment, and how to use those visual elements and a few words and hashtags to encourage people to think about some deep shit.

Perhaps there is some irony in communicating all this through smartphones, which are likely very responsible in shrinking the human attention span to its current state, which is now smaller than that of a goldfish. Dammit.

Being a metaphor is exhausting sometimes.

Anyway, look at this place. It’s huge. You know what I mean.


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