I was recently chatting to someone who has a plan.
He is retiring at aged 50 and going off to live in the wilds of Canada. He’s Canadian so it’s not as far-fetched as it sounds, but the really scary part is that he is deliberately going to be “off-grid”. He’s a self-confessed geek so this is quite a step and, when he told me all this I suggested that it was some form of backlash against the grip of technology, a deliberate swipe at the lifestyle we all find ourselves living in modern society.
“But of course it is” he grinned.
I harbour a similar desire, namely to retire aged 50, but as yet have no plan to get there. It’s unlikely to happen and as such will remain a dream but, it is something I’m now thinking about. If I did retire early, what would I do? Where would I go?
The idea of living remotely appeals to Louise and I, even if it isn’t that far removed from civilisation. Being off-grid, no internet, limited phone access, is another deal entirely but given that I do so enjoy snatched moments of solitude, an afternoon lost in a book, a stroll round the park, it is worth considering.
Personal space is something for which we all hunt, something we aim to manufacture by donning headphones and blocking out the rest of the world. Regardless of where we are, the message remains the same and annoyance comes from those that don’t even realise that is the aim. It’s not just about listening to music, it’s about creating a place that only belongs to me. It’s most significant when wandering city streets to your own soundtrack, the reverie snapped by Big Issue sellers and small women with big umbrellas. Elsewhere this method of isolation can be more reliable yet the one place where I could be assured of true solitude would be at home and I rarely, if ever, use headphones there.
Perhaps true solitude is only possible when you are in the middle of nowhere, for any manufactured space bears the scars and remnants of modern day living. At home the phone demands an answer, walking down the street you are considerate of others as you navigate the myriad of shoppers and so forth, even lying in the park on a summer day is fraught with stray dogs and misplaced footballs.
I treasure quiet moments. Snippets of a day to pause and reflect before returning to the headlong plunge of life. Some people enjoy the helter skelter existence we seem to have these days. The incredible rush of even the most basic day is at times a sad indictment of our society, at others a thrilling embracing of being alive. Recharging our batteries is reserved for sleep, yet surely there needs to be more, surely we must pause more often to gather ourselves before the next onslaught?
Those that retain the ability to stepback have a skill to envy. One simple step creates the space I crave yet can so rarely find.
I need to learn to step back now and again.