I was born in the wrong time period.
How many of you say that to yourselves daily as you make your 5 mile 3 hour commute to go sit in a cubicle and stare at a computer screen until it feels like there is an ice pick prodding at your brain while the phone shrills incessantly?
I tell myself daily that someone who is as unhappy as I am with the modern world had to have been meant for a different era in history. By some cosmic fluke, my birth was delayed until the late 20th century and here I am clinging to the old ways while cursing the slowness of my internet connection.
I often pour over images on the web of one room cabins, fires ablaze in the hearth, rag rugs on the floor, a wide front porch with golden domed fruit pies cooling on the rail, a root cellar lined with glass jars filled with delicously colorful contents, a barn with a scattering of animals, and the peace and slight fear that comes with knowing that you are the only person around for miles. The idealized Laura Ingalls Wilder lifestyle complete with calico and maple sugarings calls out to me more and more the older I get.
I wonder about that kind of life, long for it sometimes and wish I could just walk away from everything to lose myself in a deep forest cabin.
I am not the only one, I am certain of that. Many of us want noting more than the serenity of solitude. To have time unspoiled by electronic devices, to be left to our own devices. We want this freedom yet remained chained to the very things that hold us back.
Hours that could be spent acting on our dreams are spent living vicariously through the posts of others. Heads down, fingers flying over a stylized keyboard, we fail to look up and around us to see the world in its entirety because it is easier to view it through a 6 inch screen.
Our concepts of the beauty of the earth and of people has been distorted by built in filters. An instant face lift in the palm of our hands allows us to alter our appearance so as to get more likes on social media. We erase lines, change eye color, add length to our lashes to the point where we are disappointed when we dont see that exact avatar in the mirror looking back at us.
Everything is contrived we feign concern for others, give a crying emoji and keep on scrolling. We get people to fall in love with us through messenger with daily messages, flirtatious, canned compliments at just the right time and then ignore the person for days. We toy with emotions because there are no consequences. We post our stories only to have Keyboard warriors attack like pit bulls in a ring when in real life they are de-nutted poodles in their mom’s basement.
This is why I cling so firmly to the old ways. The practice of going visiting on a Saturday, baking pies for elderly friends, helping out those in need, canning enough each year to share, quilting, raising livestock, hunting, fishing, surviving alone.
I am not ashamed to be politically incorrect by having pride in doing “women’s work” nor am I afraid to show pride in doing things that were formerly called “men’s work.” Yet the before mentioned keyboard warriors are quick to pounce with their verbal warfare and mindless threats.
What have we become? We laugh at how archaic things were in the past while the past laughs at how backwards we have become. We are now fully connected yet people are more isolated than ever, we get through horrific events by blaming things and not people, we have manipulated the system so that everyone is a victim and not at fault for their actions, we lost our funny bone and, as a result our backbone, in that people are offended by everything, we turn our backs on neighbors and open the gates for strangers, our children starve while others feast but no one bats an eye, we just don’t care because we believe that there just is nothing to care about, we have given up, we just want to be left alone.
Yet, as they say, a flower can grow in the tiniest of cracks in a filthy sidewalk. So too can we flourish amid all the bad news, good news, fake news, what have you. How? By being old fashioned, for lack of a better term. Roll up your sleeves. Bake a pie and take it over to that old lady next door who spies on you through her blinds. While you are busy commenting on your Facebook friends dinner in Australia your neighbors Social Security check might not have covered groceries this month.
Go out and teach a kid something that doesn’t involve a smart phone or video game. Engage in real life conversations with people face to face rather than sending them a text from the next room. Take a class, learn to sew or make butter or to make something with your own two hands and your imagination. Build a shelter in the woods and camp out for a week with your phone turned off and your senses turned up to high. Eat food you grew yourself or harvested from the forest and waters. Survive and you will thrive and I am not talking about that patch people wear and shakes they drink. I’m talking the real deal, feeling like you are alive because you did something, created something, gave to others, pushed your limits, burned that box you felt safe in, lived.
So next time you say that you were born 100 years too late ask yourself why you can’t recreate all that was good about the past in your own life. Work hard for your dream as though your life depends on it (because it does), be a good person, simplify, be grateful for the little things, be a good neighbor, slow down, look up, look around, create, build, make memories, establish traditions, and just live. Don’t watch life through a 6 inch screen, go out and live it in real time!