Saturday, January 25, 2014

Moving on

The abandoned bulldozer from the 1930's sits near the water by the crumbling lime kiln.  Its paint is flaking, but the tracks have not entirely corroded even after all this time.  The 'dozer is one of dozens of machines left behind when the industry here dried up.  When it was in use, the bulldozer was regularly maintained, lubricated and even washed.  Now it has become part of the landscape, visible from a distance as a silhouette on this misty day.

I walk past this machine every day.  Today, without really thinking why, I approached the 'dozer and put my hands on the large steel blade that had moved so much earth.  It felt cold, and steady.  I am not a tree-hugger, but I have hugged trees.  It occurred to me that possibly no-one had touched this machine with this seemingly unwarranted attempt at empathy before, and I could feel that recognition move through my skin.

When its utility was at an end, this machine was left behind.  To many, it is a symbol of our recklessness and greed - a machine designed to level the earth and remove whatever is in its way.  But this machine was built, one bolt at a time.  Human ingenuity created it, and it is not the bulldozer's fault we like to think we have risen above our past.

We do walk away from people and things that don't serve any longer.  People have walked away from me and you when our utility diminished in their eyes.  Onward and upward we have moved, sometimes looking back with embarrassment at the things that brought us to the next place.  But it was never the next place that encouraged retrospection.  Here today, with my hands on this machine that is not ever going to go anywhere again I begin to integration.  The sickening feeling of having looked within myself for resources I can exploit, that others may find quantify my qualities.  It is not something I can do with the same enthusiasm any longer.

I won't try to argue for the sentience of a machine.  But I do feel something in the armour of its blade, and a sense of nostalgia sitting in its seat, looking at the old dials and gauges.  This machine is useless now.  So I just sat with it for no reason, as I did as kid with the old truck in our yard, looking at the dials, pressing the pedals, on a misty day by the water in an abandoned lime quarry.