It is hard to imagine my thoughts being right about this but they are definitely right for me. I think that mankind is naturally inclined to be more nomadic than as fixed-in-place as they generally are. I think people like to roam, change and wander. Go sailing, trekking, rv-íng and touring. Pick up camp. Shift to light speed. I think people need to move. It is natural.
And I think two week vacations are a poor and minimalist sop to that basic human requirement.
I think the Bedouin and the Tuaregs and the First Nations and the Polynesians are more indicative of a natural way of life than are members of strata-title condo villages, high-rise apartment-dwellers and crowded subdivisions. I don’t even think traveling in buses, trains and airplanes counts as real travel. Too crowded, too managed, the route too fixed. Not even warp speed.
Having said that, there have been people fixed in place for eons, from farmers to sheep herders, so I could be wrong. But the current state of congested urban living just doesn’t feel right. Not to me. The idea of being able to hear my neighbours party, work, converse or flush their toilet is just appalling to me and more so now that I have the luxury of no longer having to. I do not think I will ever live amongst the people (in any numbers, anyway) again. Separation is not just a preference, it is now a necessity.
No, I do not hate people. I would opine that we have a few too many but that is more an expression of my antipathy to cities – where the congestion is so visible. Maybe if 7 billion people were evenly spread around reasonably livable parts of the planet, it would not seem so ‘populated and polluted’ and it would not seem like too many then. Hell, I might even come to like some of them.
I mention all this because I was motivated to move off-the-grid for a number of reasons and lack of enough ‘personal space’ was one of them. Now I have enough space and I appreciate it. It is good. Very good.
It is as if a subtle burden has been lifted. I didn’t really know I wanted more cat-swinging room til I got it. I didn’t really know I needed such space until the always present mild claustrophobia of living in the city was lessened, if not eliminated. Crowded elevators and mass transit, classrooms and office blocks, department stores and traffic jams should have been a bit of a clue but I didn’t really get it til I got out of it.
It was a bit like growing up with some kind of physical handicap and then, by way of surgery or medicine, getting relief. It was like someone finally undid the bench vice and I took my hand out. In football they call it ‘running for daylight’. The hockey player ‘breaks open’. Prisoners ‘break out’. We got off the merry-go-round, out of the rat-race and off-the-grid. All are similar ways of expressing some kind of freedom-seeking.
And I think that is natural. Rare, nowadays, but still part of who we all are.
The internet is not really freeing. Maybe a little bit. But it is really part of the problem because it feels like a large part of the solution. The internet promises a new kind of freedom and anything associated with the concept of freedom is being embraced. I am saying people need freedom, not the internet.
The city is getting tighter, society is getting more controlling and rights and freedoms are being reduced. But people can ‘break for virtual freedom’ cheaply and easily on their computers and so they do. Some go virtual for many hours, even days at a time. But virtual is not real and so that kind of escape will not prove satisfying in the end. It will become yet another part of the grid and it will trap the player instead of free him.
“Dave! Thinking that way would have to include being trapped by having to live on the planet. You can’t define the jails for others. They choose their path. Lighten up!”
Of course you are right. Almost anything can be restraining. I know people who would willingly go back to their cells should the doors accidentally open and offer them freedom. In their case constraint is security and comfort, not restriction. And neither cities nor forests are exempt from that conundrum. I know that. But, still, it feels like there is inherently more choice, more freedom, less restraints, less constraints, fewer restrictions in the forest. It really does.
Mind you, if I could, I would take a job on the Starship Enterprise and boldly go where no one has gone before. Now that feels like even more freedom…………