Sunday, November 16, 2014
Stuck in civilization
Last week some friends we hadn't seen in a while came over for a visit. They were pretty fascinated by the little boat I'd built. The guy was especially taken with it. He saw the potential. Someone working part time in their driveway could build a craft that could take them far away from the mundane world.
That might be a bit much to expect from a 12 foot boat. Then again, Stephen Ladd spent 3 years adventuring on his 12 foot boat so you never know.
I think my friend was taken with the thought of being able to escape civilization with all its demands. A boat is freedom. That fact that one could build a sturdy little boat and make dreams reality had a strong effect on him.
“I need to quit my job,” he said.
Maybe he does. Maybe we all do. Maybe it's not so much our jobs that's the problem. Maybe it's this whole thing we call civilization. There are expectations, demands on our time, standards that must be adhered to.
What's the point of civilization, really? Okay, there are some things I get; cold beers, hot showers, and the skills of a well trained surgeon when a bone is sticking out. Books. I'd miss books. As small as my boat is, there will be actual paper books on it. Civilized life has some benefits, I'll grant you that.
In my heart of hearts I'm a barbarian. Civilization captured me at a young age, taught me how to read, to count past my fingers, and the difference between a salad and a fish fork. That's great and all, but civilization's costs are ignored. We've become disconnected from the natural world. Few of us can even feed ourselves like are ancestors could just a few generations back. Many moderns don't have the faintest clue where their food comes from or how it's prepared. Never mind being able trap a rabbit or spear a fish.
Traveling in a small simple boat demands one pay attention to the natural world. The rhythms of civilization are replaced by the demands of wind, water and wildlife. This is how man used to live.
So there it was, my boat, sitting in the driveway, like some sort of escape capsule. Civilization hasn't been all the good my friend of late. He's underemployed for his level of education. The nice house he lives in consumes much of his money and time. His spouse has numerous medical conditions tying them to the civilized world.
Maybe it doesn't help that his stepson just announced plans to “disappear from the grid.” He's out of work, but has an old paid off car, a good sleeping bag, and nothing but mounds of student dept to leave behind. The kid even got rid of his cell phone. (good first step for getting off the grid.)
Civilization is a funny thing. At first there are a lot of upsides and fewer downsides. As the years go by, civilization's demands become greater and greater while it's fruits go to fewer and fewer. There's archaeological evidence suggesting when that happens folk just wander off into the jungle or disappear into the hill country.
Some leave by small boats.