Open Space. When was the last time you saw some? I'm not talking about the park down the street, or a good spot to park your car at the grocery store. When was the last time you could look around you and not see another sign of human beings or hear them or their creations. No car or train noises, no garbage or roads, signs or sounds. If you drive East from Los Angeles on Interstate 10 or 15, into the middle of the Mojave Desert, you'll find the start of the journey required to find some of the best open space left in America.
The Mojave is a wilderness that has challenged generations of Americans; starting with American Indians and including economic migrants from the Mid-West during the Great Depression, it has tested the mettle of strong-willed miners, and provided an open canvas for daring test pilots. Generations of Americans have smelled the sagebrush warning them that a rare rain shower was nearby; gazed at the blankets of wildflowers that appear in spring; startled jackrabbits and reptiles as they have trekked through a place where life is not familiar with bounty or comfort. Life is everywhere in the Mojave, but each day is a triumph. Every American that has truly experienced the Mojave wilderness -- the searing heat by day and frigid nights -- must have carried away an inspiration of some sort. In the quiet solitude of the desert you're left to only your ideas and motivation -- not encumbered by the onslaught of messages and instructions you receive in daily life in the suburbs and metropolises. What Americans have achieved, buoyed by the inspiration, solace or capacity bestowed upon them by the open vistas of the desert is not quantifiable. There is no sure way to locate the sources of ambition or provenance of strength, but surely our country is stronger because of the wilderness that nurtured its young psyche.
Today, the side-effects of American inspiration are easier to identify. Skyscrapers and highways, jets and sports cars, capitols and constitutions. The wilderness that nurtured our ambitions must now survive them. We have a tendency to use open land as a blank sheet of paper for the long list of our needs and desires. If America is going to maintain an original course, we have to preserve our original inspiration. We are a country that has tamed wilderness, but that same wilderness has emboldened our spirit and fostered a sense of boundless liberty where anything is possible. Today the Mojave challenges us to preserve this past for the sake of our future.
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