Otis Russell

Celebration Of Life
A celebration of Otis Russell’s life will be held at the Wequassett Inn and Resort on Monday, May 30 from noon to 3 p.m.  All are invited.  
In the meantime, friends are invited to contemplate this purely “Otis” musing that he left behind.

Natural Selection
by Otis Russell
I live on Cape Cod in the midst of the natural world; it is my everyday companion, my constant. Oceans, bays, beaches, dunes and woods house the shark and minnows, yellowlegs and sandfleas, deer and deer ticks of my surroundings. These are my cornerstones and my grounding; I am a daily communicant in this chapel. I am of an age where I eschew the communications revolution and its attendant technology that, rather than a means, becomes a self-indulgent end in itself. Yes! I am a Luddite, but one armed with cogent rationalizations. The world is very much “too much with us,” and when my dog and I walk deep in the woods on a Wordsworth-worthy jaunt, I am attuned not to earbuds, but to flower buds; my communication is with myself, plotting out stories, reciting or memorizing poetry...equally self-indulgent but non-electronic. I am a great believer in Darwinian natural selection in all things both mechanical and biotic. We move through life and people taking some with us and leaving some behind, as our stages take us to new areas and acquaintances. We evolve past friends and marriages, adapt to new arrangements, and go on. To dredge up a friendship from years ago just because we can seems pointless; we passed beyond it for valid reasons and now to be in touch does not seem to balance with the time consumed with both getting and staying in touch, so says the Mr. Natural in me.
When my dog and I are woods-walking we are as natural as can be; she is unleashed and free to do as she pleases. But now comes my comeuppance and epiphany. Technology is an extension of our functions (hammer: fist; computer: brain; camera: eye, etc.). My dog, as pure nature, should eschew any technology that is not an extension of her natural world. But her walk is a series of multitasking spurs off the Point-A-to-Point-B nature of my walk. My Platonic view of the walk encompasses me, a dog, the path and nature savored. To her, the nature of the walk is hundreds of different points of input as she snuffles along, nose to ground.
First, she has to read, decipher and answer her P-mail (this is a constant on the walk and her IM reserves seem as inexhaustible as the blades of grass and low shrubbery that serve as her apps). She has friended every tree and dwells languidly on her FaceBark pages. We are both aware of every twitter and tweet, but whereas I consume them tranquilly, she is off bounding after them to give them her undivided attention. Her walk is probably three times longer than mine and maybe more enjoyable. Her pleasure is instantaneous and helter-skelter; mine, perhaps more thoughtful. Her walk is a tidal wave of sensory overload, followed by Lethe; mine, gratified joy and then, experience recollected in tranquility. My epiphany is the realization that there is pleasure enough for both of us, each in our own way. My force-of-nature Lab has shown me that I need to be more tolerant, less smug regarding the communications revolution. The multitaskers can trace their roots back to my natural world; we have five senses to use, she seems to say, not just one.
My condescension has perhaps been triggered by a misplaced aloofness; you can’t critique the water if you’re not in the pool. For all we know, opposable thumbs were evolving toward texting all along.