As I mentioned in a previous blog, we had guests from Japan last month. Husband and wife. ‘Leo’ was a former W’fer and wanted to show his new partner ‘the wilds’. Living off-the-grid. And it was a delight. We really enjoyed seeing them again.
Seems we are getting some more. This time it is ‘old’ Chinese students from a few years ago. Now grown up, two of the first students from the schools we hosted eventually married and are coming to ‘remember’ their first date. It was here.
And they want to bring two friends.
Sally and I do not, for a second, believe it is our magnetic personalities drawing young people from foreign countries. For one thing, there was and likely still is a significant language barrier. Not to mention a cultural, generational and scheduling (I go to bed early) barrier. We all like each other a great deal but we are not buddies. Not in any conventional sense, anyway.
But they come. And they want to. Desperately. They are the ones who write and request permission. They are the ones who make the effort to make the reunion happen. It comes from them.
Some of it, of course, is just plain youthful adventure tourism. Some of it is the foreknowledge of knowing there will be a good reception. But the real reason is the woods. The real reason is nature. The real reason is a deeply-felt longing to be in the forest with clean air and wildlife and physical activities. The real reason is really, really basic. It is fulfilling a primal need for space, nature, clean air and a sense of freedom.
And that is as much about rejection of their city life as it is a longing for the wilds. It is not a coincidence that the desire to ‘go feral’ is manifesting in young urban Asians. It is there (Tokyo, Hong Kong) that the urban life looms largest. Claustrophobic in the extreme to westerners but even to young Asians used to living in giant hives and colonies, it is becoming too much. And now some of them know there is an alternative. And they want it.
We all may feel a bit of that while living in the city but, in Vancouver, it is easy to ‘get away’ and one can be in a ‘wild space’ within hours. Even Stanley Park can feel wild in some parts. And our ‘city’ for all it’s confinement, has lots of open space, the air is usually good and we do not all live on top of each other. We westerners don’t really feel the weight, the oppression, the dominance of so-called urban society as heavily as urban Asians do. Hell, we even have grass and trees everywhere. Hong Kong doesn’t. You can go for hours and only see buildings and roads.
It is a modern hell.
And, in time, it will be a lifestyle more and more common, more ubiquitous, more omnipresent. It is happening in Asia, India and even in Europe to a large extent. And people will increasingly come to see living like that as normal. Change is generational. And it will happen that way – each generation accepting their increasing incarceration.
Greater Chongquing (inland city in SW China) has an official population of 28 million. Unofficially, it is thought to be closer to 35 million. Canada has barely 35 million people spread over the second largest country in the world, geographically speaking!
We have space.
Many people don’t.
Sal and I can do this. And we will. Four students, maybe five at a time. But it is exhausting and it is a minuscule response. People will want this. People need this. I sure do, anyway. And, it seems many of our previous guests need it, too. It’s only natural.
It is actually super-natural BC.