Whenever we take road trips around the countryside, it always surprises me when I see solitary figures walking purposefully across miles and miles of flat land; up and down expanses of treelined hills. Sometimes they walk with four- legged friends, sometimes completely alone. But always, walking to directions navigated by their own biological compasses, the same internal makeup that allows them to wake up right before dawn.
In the heart of Mother Nature at her most naked form, unshaven and undone: proof of (human) life! Sons and daughters of the earth.
When you’ve been a city rat for most of your life– spending many days contending with both human and transport traffic, routinely waking up to mechanical alarm clocks on side tables, regularly looking at the world through 17 inch screens– a life that is detached from all that hustle and bustle easily sounds more idyllic. Romantic even. It’s like that tired adage of greener grass on the other side of the fence. In the eyes of the average urbanite, the country road could literally be just that.
Thoreau, who was born and raised in a fairly industrialised city like Massachusetts in the 1800’s, wrote Walden; or Life in the Woods (1854) with the same notion in mind.
I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived. I did not wish to live what was not life, living is so dear; nor did I wish to practise resignation, unless it was quite necessary. I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life, to cut a broad swath and shave close, to drive life into a corner, and reduce it to its lowest terms, and, if it proved to be mean, why then to get the whole and genuine meanness of it, and publish its meanness to the world; or if it were sublime, to know it by experience, and be able to give a true account of it in my next excursion.
When we live with all the conveniences of city life, have the “marrows of life” truly been pre-sucked; diluted; re-packaged for our coddled consumption? Does the sun really shine better through a forest of trees than through a concrete jungle?
These days, when we hypothetically talk about the idea of moving out of the city, our main concern always seems to be: “Is there fast internet connection there?” Whether we admit it or not, we’ve all become dependent on how we can instantly make the world seem smaller, no matter how exotic and alluring the immensity of Nature is out there.
And even if I were to permanently stay in a farmstead somewhere, I personally would also prefer the convenience of getting to ask Google something as random as How to find lost cows? or Why is my tree dying? at any time of the day.
In other words:
Amen to endless country roads! With GPS, unlimited 4G Mobile data, and high-speed Wifi, please!
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