History: I recall standing on the front lawn of the cul-de-sac house we had just bought and a neighbour came over to introduce himself. Dave ll.
After a bit of chit chat he asked me, “Geez, I have always admired this lawn. What kind of lawn food do you give it?” I burst out laughing. “Lawn food?! I dunno from lawn food! I just moved in. Never really had a lawn before….well, not a green one, anyway, ya know, nothing like this little patch of perfection. Enjoy it while it lasts. I can kill a lawn from thirty paces and this one’s days are very likely numbered. Hahahah!”
He was shocked at my callous attitude. His face showed visible worry that such a man had moved into his neighbourhood. He was clearly concerned. And, with the rhythm of the conversation shattered by such surprising ugliness, he soon moved off. I stood alone on the lawn with my hands clasped to my chest and cackled hideously while he was still within earshot.
No, I am not exaggerating. It was fun. Took that other Dave about three years to accept that I was not all bad but even with that, he kept his distance. We were never close.
I mention this because, in a minor way, it illustrates my basic lack of interest in so many things normal in city and suburban living. I don’t hate them so much as I don’t appreciate them. I don’t care about lawns, for instance. Not in the least. To me, they are like any ‘fancy show’ of materialism intended to impress strangers. Like giant stainless steel BBQs.
I have never understood the need to impress others with the notable and completely logical exception of cars, boats and macho-trucks. And now workshops. Maybe guns and home theatres (jury is still out). Those – the vehicles – are true and accurate personal statements about who you really are. That I understand.
Lawns? Not so much. In fact, the rest that makes up the urban ‘imagery’ is mostly just nonsense to me. Efforts misplaced at best, just plain stupid most of the time.
Apologies to all who love their lawns and/or giant BBQs and treat them as one of their family. I really do accept that each to their own……………it is just that my own is well, my own.
I think I value experience more. The stuff of story-telling. Of course, I want ice cubes in my martinis and hot showers and to be able to watch cheap B-action movies on my large screen TV but, really, the measures and milestones I use to keep track of my life are mostly experiential, mostly real-life education. And my friends. I guess I tend to look at my life as more of a documentary than an oil painting, a story rather than an estate, an ever-changing condition rather than a status or goal to be achieved. For me, it truly is the journey rather than the destination.
I think our society tends to emphasize the other.
Anyway…..all that was in aid of trying to describe the quiet, desperate-but-not-fully-conscious frustration of living and working in a system that rewards one’s efforts with ‘not-quite-the-right’ reward. Not for me, anyway. I liked working but I wanted something other than what I was getting.
I just didn’t know what.
It is hard to imagine a whole other context of life possibilities when you are completely immersed in just one. To be able to step outside the box almost requires that you first have to bump up against the sides of the box and feel the frustration of that. Your movement has to feel restricted to know that it is. And so many people (me included) spend time bumping their foreheads up against walls and not quite knowing that there is another side to the wall that might be more to their liking.
I had not planned for this exit ramp off the highway. Not really. Even buying our remote island property 35 years before moving to it is inexplicable. Pure dumb luck, really. Just a fluke of timing and circumstance. We hadn’t a well-established affinity for cabins and forests and such either. No skills or ‘natural’ interests. Nothing that even hinted at this kind of lifestyle. And, even though I was losing interest in the city rapidly, I was still pretty much involved in it if only by way of duty and obligations. Plus Sally was actually more deeply immersed and interested than I was. We didn’t plan for this so much as just bumping into the walls.
Thank God for the bumps, eh? Sometimes they seem a little harsh. I know that. Surprising at the very least. But it is the bumping into obstacles that gets you to change directions. They can be gifts. The bumps were gifts for us.
Like some of our friends recently, we had a few bumps to experience and figure out. And sometimes the bumps hurt us a little. It isn’t always an easy process. But we were sent the bumps for a reason. And we responded.
Responding to bumps. I think that was another part of the reason for heading off the grid.