Friday, January 15, 2010

The Fragility of Beauty

I've written before about some highway rest stops in NC, and the balance and rightness of those sites. They're arranged. They're an inspiring lesson on the potential ubiquity of beauty, that anything can be made not only functional but "right" in a way that rests the soul. Those rest stops used to make me smile and breathe more deeply because the sidewalks, buildings, and trees were arranged perfectly. They made use of open spaces and placement to make you FEEL the space, the room, the rest.

NC has been tearing these up, one after another, to add a duplicate restroom building. I understand this is to allow one to be open and one closed for major cleaning at all times. This will mean a reduction of cost - only one rest area attendant, regardless of gender, can clean both restrooms while the public is not inconvenienced.

But the beauty of all of these sites has been destroyed. And at what cost? Were the decisions made with full knowledge of what was being lost? I'd noticed that many more people actually stopped and RESTED at these sites, compared to others in the Southeast. Aware or not of the reasons, people were affected by the balance of those places. The architecture. Their RIGHTNESS. Did the officials who decided to destroy that know what they were destroying?

I pulled into my favorite of these rest stops a week ago and was dismayed to find that most of it had been torn down for a similar project. That leaves not one intact. I wanted to weep. I think this inspired the dream I had several days later. And on my trip this week to Atlanta I stopped at another, and realized that the trees they had cut down for the constuction were the China Rain trees - the most beautiful things at that stop...

4 comments:

Genie Sea said...

There is nothing like "progress" and convenience to destroy beauty and functionality. I am unfamiliar with rest stops as we don't have them in Canada. They sound wonderful though. What a shame they are gone :( And the trees...BOO on them.

linda said...

after doing my post on emily carr and her love of trees, this post holds a poignant reminder of what we are losing each day, as we make "way" for more of most of what we don't really need...we seem, as a people, to be less aware of the beauty around us, the natural beauty, and in every space, every venue, the intrusion of humanity seems to be a downgrading of all that is pure and natural, all that holds nature in her hand...i don't know if i am making any sense but this post touched me deeply as i see it in everything i touch when i take myself from my hilltop down into the mire of civilization's excesses.

i was reading of the depression supposedly caused by the movie 'avatar', which i won't be seeing...that it's false beauty, manmade, unreal, unattainable, was setting some onto an unreachable ledge from which they saw only desolation without the veil of a movie screen--or maybe those strange glasses... i would say to this unwillingness to be satisfied with our beautiful blue planet, 'open your eyes' but that's me...

susan said...

I can understand your misery at the senseless destruction of places that were once carefully and lovingly planned and built. Nowadays we often get the feeling that things have been arranged by committees with computers who never actually 'see' anything. The alien quality of machine culture takes no prisoners.

Steve Emery said...

LAdies,

Thank you all for understanding this so well. It helps to know that many people DO understand what I mean, even if planners and the Department of Transportation don't.

And our beautiful blue planet... I can't understand how anyone can miss the wonders all around us, in every leaf and every insect, in the sky both day and night.