Confronting Concrete: The Catch-7 of City Living

by David King on May 26, 2013

concrete I’m tired of the city. Really, really tired of it.

I suppose it’s not the city itself that I’m tired of. It’s what the city has removed that I find myself longing for. I’m tired of the absence of nature; of perfectly aligned trees and genetically enhanced flowerbeds. I’m tired of manufactured landscapes and concrete views. I miss the connection. I miss life – the kind that isn’t constantly motivated by coffee breaks and cocktails on patios.

Such feelings may come as a surprise, given my current location. And sure, Vancouver is a city with more natural beauty than most. But it is nonetheless still a city. Trees have been replaced by towers of glass and cement. Pristine bays once frequented by orcas now function as parking spaces for freighters and shipping vessels. The nature that remains has been quarantined, in a sense, fenced off and barricaded; designated and assigned; redefined and reordered; to be photographed, by tourists and locals alike.

I want my own little patch of grass. I need to really see the stars. Imagine the inspiration and the wonder – to get lost in the cosmos every night?

At the end of the day, I really just want to reconnect. Not with fabrications and facades, but with something real, something that has depth.

I believe that our disconnect from nature is one of our biggest shortcomings. Such disconnect removes nearly all understanding and respect for the natural world, further implicating our species in a trend of devastation and exploitation unlike any other we’ve seen. Cities inspire complacency, at minimum, for they remove (or constrict) perspective. But it’s a catch-22, or a catch-7, of sorts. With the world population having now exceeded 7 billion, city living is necessary for most. Environmentalists agree that we need to be condensed in order to save on resources. We cannot, each and every one of us, possibly own acreage. While cities are necessary for sustainability, they are simultaneously stifling and suffocating. They remove us. They sterilize us and leave us empty. Is it any wonder that we are always searching? Is it any wonder that we find ourselves wanting more?

And so here I am, wanting more – wanting something that we all cannot possibly have. There are things I love about the city, but any magic that remains has been decided upon and chosen; steered in a particular direction long ago. I need something a little more real, a little less clichéd. I have confronted the concrete, and I am now turning away.

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