“A man is rich in direct proportion to the number of things he can afford to leave alone.”
Spring started with a stutter. It warmed up in February to almost eighty degrees, but then March came back with a vengeance. I felt sorry for several of the trees and plants which were beginning to waken in February, only to be frozen again a week later.
I completely understood how some people can begin to empathize with the environment around them when they are out on their own, but for me, I was still surrounded by people to an extent. My experiment was not just to live close the edge of life, but also to still be able to live among others. One’s choice of lifestyle should not necessitate complete reclusion from the world. I was hoping to create a new way of living where people of lesser means could still be a vital and compatible part of society as a whole.
I rode into town on Christmas and paid my tribute to the community in church with the Chowning’s. It is always an interesting experience for me to attend a church meeting. I smiled to myself as most of the virtues touted as high merit in their savior were the same as the one’s I was practicing in my own life. I had turned my back on the material world and sought a higher spiritual understanding. I sought a sense of shared community and was always willing to help neighbors just as they were willing to help me. I had never thought of my experiment in a religious sense before, but after all metaphysics is just one branch of philosophy and Thoreau began this experiment centuries before as a philosophical test, so it should have come to no surprise to me that metaphysics would fall into my realm of experience out here.
The one thing I commented about on the way back that brought a great deal of laughter from my neighbor’s was that despite all of the ornate beauty of the church, it was a surprisingly uncomfortable place to sit in.
On New Year’s Day several of my friends from my former life came to visit with me, or as they said, to see if I was still alive. I gave them a tour of the area and showed them some of my unique innovations for survival. Some of them were not thrilled by the sparse accommodations, especially the women. Using the bathroom in the woods is a novel if somewhat off putting idea to most people in the civilized world. Our ancestor’s practiced this for thousands of years, but apparently after less than one hundred years the idea had grown repugnant.
We built a large bon fire and opened several cases of beer and they shared all the news of the world in far off places and people that none of us had ever met, and I told them of my own experiences here and about the harvest and all the goings on with the neighbors. I noticed then, that my world view had changed dramatically in the time I had spent out here. I was not bombarded with images from around the world; I did not see the nightly killing spree that comprises the evening news. My whole world had shrunk and I didn’t even know many of the people that they were telling me about. I had lost touch with the world at large, and I really didn’t seem to miss it.
They told me the news about all of their jobs and new houses or the seemingly infinite meetings and conquests in their social lives. I must admit that I had spent some time this winter trying to imagine how a woman would fit into this life style, much less a family. When a man chooses to endure the hardships of nature, society will look the other way, but when he inflicts them upon his children, they will undoubtedly intervene. I could imagine social services coming out here to “check” on the welfare of the children. This way of life would not be acceptable to the government for the rising of a family, even though once again, it has been done this way for thousands of years.
It made me pause and think about how the quality of life in our world is now so clearly defined by how many material objects one possesses. This is the basis of class warfare and the envy of the rich and powerful, it is this which is the root of misery in the ghettos. If people in lower economic classes ever looked at the world and were free to produce the things they needed from their own hands, then they would realize that they are freer than the richest man in the world.
Our whole societal system is designed to impress upon us the importance of possessions rather than the quality of life, the same quality of life these convenience items are supposed to provide. We have been led to believe that consumption is greater than creation.
One other thing I noticed out here was the slowing down of time. The days seemed longer without the hassles of getting up and commuting to work every day. It also allowed my mind to think about and conceive of ideas and solutions undisturbed from outside influences. I was not being constantly bombarded with a stimulus that distracts me from my thoughts. I felt, for the first time in a long time, truly content.
- The Island of Wye ? (excursionsintoimagination.wordpress.com)
- Notes on the Craft (Part 7) (excursionsintoimagination.wordpress.com)
- Hitch And Sully: Is Religion Fossilized Philosophy? (dish.andrewsullivan.com)
- Fifteen Fragments of Wisdom in Life (ispocklogic.wordpress.com)
- Civil Disobedience (whatmyminddoes.wordpress.com)
- Embodied Philosophy: Petite Reflections on a Philosophy Informed by the Incarnation (bktheologian.wordpress.com)
- Happy Birthday, Henry David Thoreau! (bluemountain.com)
- What is philosophy? (ancientbumblebee.com)
- Butchering Philosophy (schizosophy.com)
- This I Believe: Life-Changing Literature (kidstardustliteraryblog.wordpress.com)