I’ve been thinking about old pubs, long hikes, greeting people on the road. Simplicity and true social interaction (as opposed to this electronic thing). A blog I am following has stirred this post and imagery up in my mind – called up stuff from almost 30 years of thinking and reading.
So I guess I still pine, sometimes, for an era I never saw, where it wasn’t buzz-buzz-buzz all the long day. When a man took a constitutional hike, had time to meet folks, didn’t quaff coffee en-route a 15-16 hour day that ended six hours into the next one. Sometimes I’ve been told, and even occasionally had a fleeting belief that such utopian silliness is just that, and there has never been such an age where things were simple, low-key and real.
Tolkien, Lewis, Herriot, Graham. They set the scene for me way way back and it never left. Just gets clouded over or burned out by the days in which I find myself. Ever think about just walking, for an hour or six, with just a friend, talking when it happened, or just breathing the air and taking in the land? Reading The Wind in the Willows, Watership Down, the Hobbit, The Trumpet of the Swan and a multitude of other books, mostly titles forgotten, contributed very early on to the building of a little corner in my mind that is quieter, lonesome and sort of at peace; entirely contradicting the normal routine of my days.
Not that I’m advocating monasticism or a mass retreat back to some golden age. There really are plenty of folk out there who are thick in the midst of the global glob, right where they belong. And there’s where many or maybe most should be. What’s to hurt if one guy who dreams about this stuff drops off the grid and lets the rest sort of spin around him. I suppose that would require a receptive environment (IOW unlike Sandy Eggo). Just being tangled up in my family and a local job, knowing the neighbors and having little, if any knowing of the guys a thousand miles away.
Doesn’t the world ever get just a little too big? Like you’re a little wood-chip floating on the surface of Lake Tahoe or something? Could there not be some guardians, last little homes on the edge of the wild? I can easily daydream of overgrown cottages, virtually invisible in the clutter of hay and weeds, all but forgotten. Except the quiet folk who inhabit those little places.
Quiet folk that simply are. They’re there in the world, yet not in everything. They hold opinions on what they need to and nothing more. They can tell you where the food is best or where to find a quiet day. They can take you to the little church where a similar man maintains the homely place, preaching on Sunday and helping others the following six days. 1 Thessalonians 4, though not directly dealing with my theme, still serves to quench some of the intensity of my days, leading me back ’round to all these images.
“…But we urge you, brothers, to do this more and more, and to aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we instructed you, so that you may walk properly before outsiders and be dependent on no one.”
But I think maybe sometimes we spread ourselves too thin. All over a city rather than a local circuit. We’re so commonly cruising the globe on an airship made of electrons where some might really need to be hiking a countryside that’s limited to how far a man can walk in a day. I get overwhelmed more often than not, with the immensity of all the world.
Sometimes I’d like to think that, one day, people will think of me as a sort of fixture, a fitting part of a place, only knowing what’s worth knowing and maybe just a little center of homely peace. Surely quite unlike what I am right now.
Heinlein said specialization is for insects. I think that’s pretty much right, but it does break down at some point. You can spread yourself so thinly over a broad enough area (culture, society, issues, skillsets) that there is no longer any value in any one of them. I think I’ve done more “outside” my life than in it. And it’s become ingrained too – high speed/low drag, as we say in my occupation.
Tolkien leads me to wonder what more could I be to my little life-realm if it was all reigned back in and could be found on a map of the shire. Hobbits didn’t mess with the rest of the map unless they were, and few were, called to the outside. Funny thing is, I still don’t “feel” called. Though I’ve been here for so long.
To think of what I could think of,
were my thoughts thought so much closer to home.
Instead of spread like a spider’s web
across the sea and stone.