This morning, Simona had a couple of tickets for the Sunken Gardens in St Pete and kindly invited me along. I hadn’t been there before and up to my internet search last night, I knew absolutely nothing about the place.

At over a century old, this turns out to be one of the oldest roadside attractions in the US and it proudly sits on what used to be a main highway that is now part of a city street array in the greater Tampa Bay Area.

Roadside attractions are by definition “a feature along the side of a road meant to attract tourists. In general, these are places one might stop on the way to somewhere, rather than actually being a destination.” And I suspect their heyday has been and gone probably before most of us were born.

Simona had touted it as having some wonderful plants within a single area and beyond that, my expectations were limited.

In truth, her company alone would have made the drive worthwhile … she is a walking encyclopedia for plant stuff. But the place itself was well worth the visit anyway.

I have attached a number of images from this morning to the bottom of the blog and I hope you find at least some of them interest-worthy. I think my favorites are actually the feathers in the water.

Anyway, enjoy.

As I drove home I mused over the whole notion of the disappearing attractions from the US highways and while I suspect that the interstate system together with major destination attractions like Disney World, made them somewhat irrelevant.

In truth, many of them were gaudy and oftentimes cruel to whatever wildlife they had on display, so frankly I am glad to see the back of them.

But I mused on the word “attraction” and began to think about the many ways attraction is used to shape our lives.

On a very simple level, attraction to an opposite or same sex is very much a chemical thing and as attractions go, is probably the most honest form of attraction we will ever experience. We often respond without even making a conscious effort … simply drawn to a life or casual relationship just because something about the other person is attractive to us.

And I have been around couples long enough to know that there isn’t a single formula to define that attraction. And this generally translates into there being someone for everyone, no matter what your taste or appearance.

Plastic surgery is a pollution to the honesty of this attraction mechanism, as some folks get bigger boobs, butt implants, tummy tucks, nose jobs, eye jobs and whatever else in order to “enhance” their ability to attract someone.

I make no judgments and people should absolutely be allowed do whatever they wish with their own bodies.

But beyond the physical, humans tend to build stronger relationships based on character attraction. Or personality attraction. These tend to be longer lasting and more likely to produce genuine happiness.

Beyond this kind of attraction though, humans, governments and corporations have managed to use attraction for pretty nefarious purposes with the general intent to manipulate and control.

It might, for example, be a way to light and show meat in a display case (red seems to be a strong preference over brown), or perhaps a method of advertising products based on pretense that the purchaser will live a sun-drenched perfect life in an impeccably clean house and taking long relaxing baths while sipping a glass of wine.

In government we see politicians work an attraction that people may have to a certain topic (they will take away your guns) so that they create an alignment from a poor working-class voter to where other than guns he votes against his own best interests of financial equity and fairness.

Most of these type of attractions are highly abused until consumer advocacy groups force restrictions. For example, subliminal advertising in the late fifties involved placing hidden messages into television and movies for just a few frames so that the watcher would react in a certain way and want to buy a certain product without evening registering what they had just seen.

Thankfully those days are behind us but today’s version in movies and such is the never ending product placement that is so pervasive in modern media.

These work to create an association between the product or service and whatever situation or characters that we are watching. And given that we only generally watch things or people we like, this association becomes an attraction.

“We do we do certain things” is a good question to periodically ask of ourselves. We can’t do it every step of our lives as it would over analyze us to death.

But for example, why do we have seventeen guns and assault rifles at home? Where did we get the original idea that we needed these and what is the practicality of them ever serving a defense purpose?

And why do we need seventeen cameras strategically positioned around our home on a network that we can access from a cell phone while we are off partying somewhere. The attractiveness of having a perfect home where nothing we have is at risk of loss, has been sold to us as if it is real.

Generations ago, the doors didn’t even have locks. Then after they sold us the locks, the sold us deadbolts. Then they sold us alarm systems.

Then they sell us expansive monitoring systems. And if all else fails, we have our seventeen guns and assault rifles.

Folks, the attraction of the life they are pitching isn’t real. There is no absolute security and absolute protection and frankly nor should there be.

Yes, there are bad people out there. But there always was. And likely always will be.

We shouldn’t find a sterile and perfectly safe world attractive. It just isn’t real.

… just a thought.