Lets say that one day you decide you’ve been too long in the desert. This peace and quiet is lulling you into amnesia. You hear on the radio and TV of a whole other world out there. 

You want to see and experience it once again for yourself to make sure it still exists. You miss the action, excitement and adventure of the big city. 

You feel you’re loosing out on so much as these uneventful days slip by here in this far flung forgotten corner of the world.

So you pack your car and wind your way down the long country road heading toward the freeway. 

That’s that highspeed asphalt belt that connects major action hubs of the world.

You’re bound for the bright lights and excitement of the big city.

Downtown next 2 exits. - No parking anytime. - Pedestrian crossing. - 2 for 1 sidewalk sale. - Homeless veteran. Please help. God bless. - Check cashing. - This area monitored by video. - Fast easy loans. - Discount Corner Liquor. Cigarettes and cold beer. - No loitering. - Open for breakfast. We reserve the right to refuse anyone. - We accept EBT. - Jesus saves. Midnight Mission. - Don’t walk. - Right turn only. - Same day cleaning. - 24 hour grocery. - Princess Nail Salon. - Tattoo For You. - In case of emergency dial 911. - Store to let. - Apts. available. Move in specials. - Church of the guiding light. - Loading and onloading only. - No trespassing. - Bld. video monitored 24 hours. - Hotel closed for renovation. Fire station. - Don’t block driveway. - Republican Party Headquarters. Volunteers needed. - Urgent Care Center.

Well you’ve been to Walmart and gotten all you wanted. A few other stores serve to fulfill all the other  items on your list.

After lunch it’s back to your car. 

Now  you are just driving through the

streets getting a glimpse of what you’ve been missing all this time. 

But your head is spinning and your senses are overloaded.

The constant sounds of traffic vary between a hum and a roar. People’s voices are everywhere.

Humans of all shapes and sizes mill around by the thousands, there’s a never ending frantic activity.

It’s more than the sights and sounds that bombard your senses. You can not feel comfortable. There’s a constant feeling of tension and anxiety as you continue your driving tour.

They are scattered here and there along the freeway embankment some in tents and more in sleeping bags. Others hold signs at offramps. They look at you with sad, hopeless empty eyes. They are lost souls wandering the streets. The scene is real yet so shocking. 

This is not the third world.

This is a modern big American city. This should not be. There’s something very wrong here. It’s a failure of society on so many levels. What a pitiful spectacle of human degradation. It

 hurts your heart.

Huge one time only car sale today. 72 month financing. $3000 trade-in. - New homes. No money down. - 60% discount jewelry. -  Pampered Pet Salon. - Going out of business sale. Everything must go. - Pepe’s Mexican Food. -

Keep our city beautiful. Don’t litter. - 24 hour drug store. Drive through

window. - Uptown Bar and Grill. Daily happy hour. Free parking. - EZ Pawn.

Cash for gold. - Gone Again Travel Agency.

“That’s it” you say to yourself as you do a double take on that last one,

the travel agency sign. “Yeah I can travel and I can be gone again. I can be gone off out of here”

You think “What am I missing in my quiet peaceful world? 

Do I really need these sirens, flashing lights, constant traffic and overwhelming sensory overloads?”.

You wake up next morning in your own bed. You’re amazed by the stillness and quiet.

After morning coffee you walk outside and view the vastness of open space for miles around.

The only sounds are the occasional chirping of birds, leaves rustling in a gentle breeze and the far off faint whistle of a train.

You’re comforted by the stillness and silence. The eternal desert is all

around you.

You’re glad to be back.

Dan O’Connor can be reached at danhughoconnor@gmail.com