I had a bit of a surprise when I pulled into the parking lot last Saturday. Typically the lot is empty early in the morning, and it being late September I thought I’d have the beach to myself. The lot was full.
A person was walking from the lot to the beach just in front of me. He had what appeared to be a 4 feet (1.25 m) fan strapped to his back. He turned it on and the world was filled with noise.
I got down to the beach and I saw that there were about a dozen of them. I called these things ultralights, but technically they are “paramotors”. They consisted of a seat with a large fan hanging from what looks like a big parachute. None of them were in the air yet, but a couple had started their motors.
I almost left but I thought to myself that would give the paramotors the victory. So I walked out onto the beach. On the plus side I was able to get some great pictures of a baby falcon. He was more concerned with the noisy big birds overhead than with me so I was able to get within 30 feet (10 m).
I’ll admit I am very sensitive to noise. I’m slightly attentional and am an extreme introvert. As a kid I think I was just this side of being autistic. An attribute of each of these things is sensitivity to noise.
I can’t think if there is any type of noise beyond quiet music. On a hot day my wife will have the fans on to stay comfortable but I’ll turn them off as soon as she leaves. Although I hate the heat, I’d rather sweat than listen to a fan. I live my life in my mind but am pulled out by the slightest distraction (introvert vs. ADHD).
The modern world is full of noise. People are always moving at a hyper pace. We’re constantly surrounded by engines and machines. We travel to our machine and noise filled work places in motorized vehicles on crowded streets. It seems impossible to get away from the constant barrage of motorized things.
I have a great need to get away from the frenzy of the modern world. I need be free from engines and machines. I take long walks in the woods and on the beach. I like bicycling, but the cars drive me crazy. I cross country and downhill ski (Nordic & Alpine). Although I rarely get the chance, I enjoy sailing. I kayak (I’m sure you’re surprised;)) I get out into the world. The farther out I am the better I feel.
I have never understood motorized sport. What do people see in it? Why would you want to spend your free minutes doing the same thing you do on your commute to and from work, that is, sit behind an engine? How do you enjoy nature if it’s just a blur? If you’re not in the woods for the nature, why are you there? Is it the adrenaline rush? Ski down a triple diamond trail. Shoot the rapids in a kayak. Cycle in the mountains. Play competitive sports. The adrenaline is a thousand time more real when you’re actually doing something.
I’ve noticed that the most mild-mannered person becomes a jerk when driving. Just about everyone complains about how bad other drivers behave without realizing they often do the exact same things. I’m not a hypocrite, I include myself. I’m a jerk when I drive only I know and admit it. I try my best to be a nice, conscientious driver, but it’s impossible. Yes, I swear at the jerks, idiots and madmen out there with the best of them, only I know that to other people I’m the jerk or idiot or madman.
The nicest people I know often become jerks when they participate in motorized sports. They are loud and obnoxious. Their ‘fun’ is the most important thing in the universe and they become irate if there is anything they feel might limit that fun. They can be rude to people not participating in the sport. When I’ve participated I quickly discovered that to my comrades everyone out there is a jerk or an ass.
The beach, normally a quiet place full of solitude, was awash in noise. The universe began to throb. Nothing existed except for the constant buzz of a bunch of large fans. No matter where I tried to go it seems there was always one just overhead. Every time one passed over the baby falcon looked up in fear.
Finally the main group moved off down the beach. There was moment of silence. But then another one took off. The paramotor circled as a final one got ready. I left and got into my quiet electric car and left. Despite the beauty and the opportunity to take a few great pictures my morning at the beach was ruined.
So what do you think? Am I totally overreacting? Do you commune with nature behind a 300 horsepower engine? Do you unwind by winding up and engine? Am I an extremist? Or do you agree with me and like to take nature at its own pace, sit back and enjoy the show?