“Collective fear stimulates herd instinct, and tends to produce ferocity toward those who are not regarded as members of the herd.” Bertrand Russell
Today I decided to get in my car and drive North. Why? Because why not. I have a car, gas is cheap and I am free. There’s this “Children of the Corn” town about two hours north of Albuquerque, called Las Vegas. Not Sin City, Las Vegas. Not City of Lights, Las Vegas. Not Fun In The Sun, Las Vegas. Las Vegas, New Mexico. A quiet, semi-creepy, town where everyone looks inside of your car as you drive down the street because they know that you are an Outsider.
I am quirky. Yes, it’s true. And I drive a lot. And being a fairly Big-City kinda girl, this is my philosophy on stopping in small towns for gas, hotel-lodging, bathroom-breaks, etc. If I can look up and see the stars in your town, I ain’t stopping. Let me give you my logic: when traveling, people will and do know when you are not from their town. If you are, in fact, in a town. In a Big City, nobody cares where you are from or what you are doing. Do you, Boo-Boo. Let me do me. Small Towns are different. They are curious about you. Maybe suspicious of your out-of-state plates, music, fashion. And (although this goes against popular belief) if something detrimental is going to happen to you, I believe it is going to go down in the Small Town vs. the Big City. I know, I know, I can hear you now… we all fear the Unknown. And Small Towns are Unknown to me. Anyway, back to my gas, hotel, food and bathroom-break philosophy. At night, the way that I know I am in a Small Town is by looking up. If I can see the stars, BINGO, Small Town. Go ahead, try it. Look up. If you can see the stars, you live in a Small Town. Of course, it has to be nighttime for this to work. So when driving and deciding where to stop, I keep going until I can’t see stars anymore because I haven’t yet learned to embrace Small Towns and Small Town people creep me out.
I don’t know what any of that has to do with today, it was just on my mind, I guess. This mind is always raveling and un-raveling mysteries of the known universe. Which is exactly why I purposefully drove to the Small Town of Las Vegas, New Mexico today. On the campus of the Armand Hammer United World College of the American West (I swear I did not make that name up) there is a peaceful, simple, beautiful Light Sanctuary. I wanted to go there in search of light, love, tolerance and peace. It is free and open to the public and has been there since 1996. It is an art installation and a gift to the campus as well as the general public as a place for quiet reflection. The sanctuary is an all white, circular structure with prisms throughout the ceiling and walls. They serve as skylights that offer rainbows when sunlight strikes them. It is stunning. The sanctuary is in a forested area, definitely off the beaten path of the town of Las Vegas and on a private, guarded, college campus. We had to stop at the guard shack and let him know our intentions for traveling upon this private campus. He warned us to “Stay on the path and don’t wander onto the campus.” What does that mean? I got the feeling that we might be shot. But I’m paranoid, so pay no attention to me. No wonder I am always in search of tolerance.