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  • Writer's picturePiotr

To Expand Into Oblivion

Almost everyone desires a change. Staying in the monotonous "sameness", in our mind's eye, transforms even the richest landscape into a dull, gray mass. Over time, we become blind to the native beauty we are embedded within. Over time, we crave the exotic.

Once upon a time, on the outskirts of my hometown, there was NOTHING. It wasn’t nothing in the literal sense because true nothingness is the absence of matter and energy. It was nothing in the way developers understand it. A river, wild meadows, hundreds of species of flowers, fungi, shrubs, trees, grasses, and herbs, martens, foxes, and weasels, wild birds, amphibians, reptiles, and insects, so in other words: NOTHING. On top of such nothingness, one can, and indeed must, build SOMETHING, and sooner or later people build something on top of “nothing”.

Today, after more than thirty years, the invasion has driven a wedge into the regions of this wild nothingness. The pristine floodplains of the Biały Dunajec river gradually began to fill with SOMETHINGS. A road was built, and with the road came shops, parking lots, and restaurants! Closer to the river, it is still scary to build, because Mother Nature still fights back, and floods still occur. Only a fool would build there! “When the flood comes, there will be nothing again!" In the area that isn’t suitable for building solid structures, one can, at most, create an alternative world. Bring in sand, sow special grass that doesn't grow so brazenly that it needs constant trimming. Inflate a plastic slide for children, set up loungers, tables, and chairs, install a tiki bar, umbrellas made of straw imitating coconut palm fibers, and a small snack hut. Twenty square meters of a tropical beach in the heart of the Podhale Valley steppe is no joke! This pocket of an alternative universe doesn't even require the creation of a wormhole. Just take a step! A ton of sand, a few accessories, and tropical rhythms from the speakers! This venture is much cheaper than Saudi mega-projects transforming the lifeless desert of Ar-Rab al-Chali on the Red Sea coast into a range of pocket-sized, vibrant worlds. Turning deserts into oases is much more challenging than turning oases into deserts. We do the latter simply because it's easier and cheaper...

Creating terrariums within an existing wild landscape can simulate the feeling of novelty brought about by vacations. The definition of a vacation is, after all, escaping the daily routine by changing the environment. Vacations are about rest and escape. Rest and escape are in contradiction with work and learning. Observing our primordial landscape up close, studying plants and animals, looking at things under a microscope or through binoculars might open our eyes to new microcosms we never even dreamed of, but it takes time and effort.

So what to do instead? Cover it with sand and forget!

Covering a meadow with imported sand is, of course, an intervention as invasive as the one vacationers undertake to travel to their exotic destinations. Rapid increase in the number of airline passengers affects the levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and changes the landscape in an even broader and irreversible way than a tropical beach in the heart of the barely alive primordial steppe.

The sources report, that the next step in the development of my childhood meadow is the construction of a bypass road. It is supposed to cut through the area currently occupied by the "tropical beach." Seeking novelty through the actual relocation will once again play a stronger card, taking the lead over the method of creating stationary microcosms or perhaps both methods will coexist by popping in and out of existence. Microcosms with their own mini-big bangs and their own subsequent expansion into oblivion.

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