While I aspired to construct the blog in chronological order, I’ve fallen behind and am wrestling with a cacophony of reflections on my adventures and experiences. Having just driven through Texas and Oklahoma and having listened to an audiobook presentation of The Prize: The Epic Quest for Oil, Money & Power, I’m reeling with the images on my trip and the historical tome that underscores the preeminence of oil in driving this historical epoch.
The dynamism of the oil economy is palpable as you travel through Odessa, Midland and all the way to the grounds of the Oklahoma State Capitol where oil derricks are pumping crude from the Oklahoma City Oil Fields. It underscored my parochialism coming from a community that is dismissive if not hostile to oil and other extraction industries while highly dependent on them for so many aspects of our day-to-day life.
The reality on the ground was fascinating. In driving these roads, you can’t escape the vitality and dominance of this industry — hiring signs abound, the roads are filled with heavy machinery, and derricks and refinery flare stacks are pervasive. In the bars and diners, the talk always turned to oil – the latest fields in development, Texas (and Oklahoma) pride in their centrality to the nation’s economy, optimistic musings on the next new job or breakthrough, . . . Sometimes the pride came across as bravado but it was also grounded in a perception that we East Coast elite not only don’t understand the realities of life here but also have disdain for it.
Fear not – I also saw the under belly – the pollution, those left out of the economic opportunities – but the picture is so much more complicated. More fodder to contemplate in the miles ahead.