Went for a hike in the snowy mountains today. As the sludgy hum of city traffic faded into the falsetto chirps of plagued wildlife, I realized how meditative a good long walk in the woods can be. About two hours in, nature called, and me, being blessed with the external equipment that allows for upright urination, took a long look around and felt the guilty pang one gets when faced with the dilemma of obliterating a tree or damaging one’s bladder. There’s no question which won the battle, but I’m wondering about the guilt.
A hundred years ago, we cowboys would have dropped trou and watered the forest without a hint of culpability. On many occasions, during long stretches of the I-5, I’ve drifted beyond the emergency lane and unleashed a happy stream. Hell, when faced with L.A. traffic, I’ve gone so far as to fill an empty Gatorade bottle or two – even your more talented marksmen would palm my shoulder for those efforts.
So, why the guilt? When it comes to L.A.’s urban jungle – four-wheeled rat-traps slogging through the paved maze, human digits pressing hi-tech digits to send digital messages, capitalism shouted from rising rectangles – the thought of breathable air and tranquility is about as common as an honest politician. Thus, when faced with the serenity of an old oak, or the sadness of a willow, I’m a little reticent to let loose. Don’t get me wrong, if I ever find that Ugly Tree responsible for battering so many of the planet’s people, I’d water that thing right good. But there’s something sacred about nature’s purity, right?
But then, we use fertilizer to grow our food. Our toilets eventually run into the oceans which sends the water back onto the trees as rain. The word of the decade is “green,” meaning everything gets recycled. So maybe my guilt is unnecessary. Maybe this is how things are supposed to flow, as it were. Perhaps that arcing yellow stream was symbolic of humanity’s liberation.
To pee or not to pee, that is the question. I wrote the answer in the snow.