I recently moved into an apartment in the woods. It is a small place in the lower floor of a modest house. I am not completely isolated – I have neighbors, but they are no longer just across the hall or right next door, and the nearest store (which is unfortunately Wal-Mart) is about 4 miles away. I am not a city boy by any means, but I have grown accustomed to living in town, walking distance from the post office and biking distance from pretty much anything else that I might need or want. I hate driving, but now I don’t really have a choice. It’s not that I’m complaining or anything; after all, it’s beautiful out here, and the solace and solitude are unmatched. I can play my guitar as loud as I want (as long as my landlord isn’t around), and I can listen to the insects and birds all day long rather than being inundated with car and pedestrian traffic continuously. I can walk aimlessly through the woods and spy on the deer. I even saw a chipmunk outside my window recently, plus I’ve heard owls hooting and seen bats swooping around eating mosquitoes, etc. However, there is one major drawback, my cell phone and internet access is extremely limited. I can’t get any kind of access inside my apartment, so I have to step outside to send text messages, and I don’t have a strong enough signal to reliably make phone calls, so I’ll have to go somewhere else to do that. I reluctantly purchased a smart phone just so that I could have semi-convenient access to the internet and so that I’ll at least be able to check my email regularly. Oh, and if that’s not enough, I have no TV.
Over the years I have become a chronic multi-tasker and a lover of chaos and noise. I blame it on the fact that I grew up in a family of eight kids. As you can imagine, there was always a multitude of things happening at once in my house – constant noise and endless activity. Over the years, I became very accustomed to it. So, in my adult life a typical evening often consists of the TV on but muted, the stereo blasting, and me eating dinner while surfing the internet. Sounds ridiculous, but it’s true. So, you can see why no TV and limited internet access is causing some serious reflection. What am I going to do with myself now that I have been abruptly cut off from such things?
Actually, this is a good thing. I have so many things that I have been meaning to do, but the constant technological distractions seemed to have been making it nearly impossible to get to any of it. For example: I own stacks of books, comics, and graphic novels that I have never read (and there are lots of others that I have been meaning to read), I have piles of cassette tapes and CD’s that I rarely listen to (some that I haven’t listened to in years), I have dozens of zines and magazines that I have only browsed through, I have a small collection of DVD’s that I rarely watch (some that I have never watched), and I have multiple notebooks with blank pages waiting to be filled with writing, etc. Additionally, there are so many other things that I could do to pass the time: I love radio but I rarely listen to it. I have a box full of letters awaiting replies. I haven’t made a screen print or block print in months. I have tape loops to make and songs to write and record. I have languages to learn, and I’d really like to become math-ier. I like to cook and bake but I rarely get around to it. I have exploring to do and botanizing to pursue. I can even go skateboarding once in a while.
The bottom line is that I have no reason to be bored. I have no reason to complain. In fact, I should be celebrating my freedom and giving high-fives to all the neo-luddites. Life is packed with possibilities. My current situation may not be what I am accustomed to, but that doesn’t mean it’s not ideal. I am excited for the opportunities that present themselves. With time, I am certain to become acclimated to not having the technological conveniences that I once had, and I will probably look back on this time with longing, wishing I could go back to the days where I didn’t have it so easy. Either that or this will be my first step towards unplugging myself for good. Only time will tell.