Sometimes (in the theme of my C.S. Lewis post) a man needs time away from the immanence of urban life, and away from the company of women, to restore his spirit. America is blessed with wilderness on a grand scale, but even a walk in a small forest can be refreshing. The constant wear of urban life presses on the mind (and is bad for your mental health); time away restores us our sense of what is really important.
Gerard Manley Hopkins wrote a great poem that expresses just this apprehension of something greater that we find in the natural world:
This darksome burn, horseback brown,
His rollrock highroad roaring down,
In coop and in comb the fleece of his foam
Flutes and low to the lake falls home.
A windpuff-bonnet of fawn-froth
Turns and twindles over the broth
Of a pool so pitchblack, fell-frowning,
It rounds and rounds Despair to drowning.
Degged with dew, dappled with dew,
Are the groins of the braes that the brook treads through,
Wiry heathpacks, flitches of fern,
And the beadbonny ash that sits over the burn.
What would the world be, once bereft
Of wet and wildness? Let them be left,
O let them be left, wildness and wet;
Long live the weeds and the wilderness yet.
The same effect of over-proximity is true, I think, of women. With practice, a dating routine gets so polished that the whole thing is depersonalized, without any foundation for interactions besides immediate utility. Online dating is the most formulaic, lacking even the limited spontaneity present in doing a live approach. Still, what else can you expect when two social atoms come together without the presence of any kind of common society?
Getting away from the routine of things doesn’t allow us to escape the reality of the urban condition, or the reality of the modern sexual marketplace, but it lets us stop and think about whether what we have been pursuing is really our ultimate good.