I met our urban and Eastern guest last week at the ‘other island’ ferry terminus. When he got off, he was a bit agitated. “Geez! Is there a bank machine on this island, Dave? I gotta get some money.”
“Sure. The credit union. I’ll stop but, ya know………..there is no place to spend any money ’round here. I don’t got no money. You don’t need no money. We’ll feed ya. You just don’t need any. None. Hell, I haven’t carried my wallet in a month and, when I do, it is just for the day when we go to town.”
“Huh?! Waddabout ID? Don’t ya need ID?”
“Nah. I know who I am. No one else is interested. Even if they are interested, ‘Dave’ will usually do for the moment. Know lots of people only by their first name. If I can remember even that!”
“Nope! Rarely know what the day of the week it is. Don’t care. Sometimes forget the month. Kinda live by the sun and the amount of food in the fridge, ya know? If the fridge is getting empty, it must be close to two weeks since my last trip to town….whenever that was.”
And therein lies another difference in off-the-grid living. We don’t live by the watch at all anymore and we barely manage to live by the calendar. We don’t live by the wallet either. It costs money, of course, but the expenditures go out in a few large chunks every so often. There is virtually no ‘disecretionary dribbling away’ like when living in the city. Of course, there are doctor’s appointments, property taxes day, income taxes day, Christmas and our family member’s birthdays but, really, the rest of the days blur into pleasant memory.
Honestly? The hardest ‘time’ to get a handle on is when we have someone coming who booked two months ago. It is like ‘so far in the future’ I don’t even think about it. Then – all of a sudden – whoa! Guests! What ferry they on? Given that we have to prepare for them, that is the hardest time-challenge we face.
I don’t have appointments in the same way as I used to – like five a day! I doubt that I have five appointments a year! I don’t have my traffic routes timed to the minute anymore…..mostly ’cause I no longer have traffic routes! I only drive about 200 kms a month on average. So many of the ‘pulses’ and rhythms of yesterlife have changed so completely that I no longer even think about it. After eight years out here, I have gone over to island time.
“Is it better? Like, less stress and all?”
Well, yes. And no. Mostly yes. But on those few occasions when I have to keep watch on the clock, it is more stressful than it has ever been before. I am out of practice with marching to the collective beat and I am worried that I might miss my timing. Makes me nervous now. So, on less frequent occasions I get more stressed than I used to. Weird, eh?
Don’t misunderstand me. My internal clock is pretty close. I am usually ‘on time’. 15 minutes, give or take. If I say I will be up at the Q-hut at ten, I will generally be there within five minutes of ten. If anything, a bit early. I am still punctual by nature. But nothing is precise anymore. I don’t even look at the clock (tho sometimes Sal tells me what time it is). It just is ‘about time I left’ and that seems to be sufficient for most of what we do out here.
And Wednesdays are the ‘anchor day’ from which all other days are unconsciously marked. Wednesday is community day, yoga, Q-hut day and the main-flight, mail-comes-in day. We can generally frame our perspective around that once-a-week reorientation reminder. “Hmmmmm, Wednesday was two days ago so it must be Friday, eh?”
Einstein said that time speeds up and slows down depending on your perspective so long as the light is turned on……or something like that………..whatever. But if he meant that time is relative, he’s got that right. Now that my time is my own, it has changed completely from when it belonged to others.
And I like that.