Based on a recommendation from my son I am currently reading a book set in Alaska during the early 1900’s about a family struggling to settle the land, far from home, against a backdrop of a fierce and beautiful terrain. I’m struck by the descriptions of the mountains and frozen creeks and thick forests, the wildlife and the wind and the snow and the cold as well as the rugged individuals who have chosen to live there. It is an interesting tale and nudges me toward contemplation. How different things are now, in our lives of relative leisure, than they were back then. Would Bill and I have what it takes to endure, to thrive – to survive! – in this environment?
Self-sufficiency isn’t largely associated with those of us who call this country here home. We want for pretty much nothing in comparison to the characters in this story or, in fact, to those people living in hard-to-fathom conditions in many underdeveloped countries around the world.
And yet I wonder. If we were to walk – to bid adieu to the hustle and bustle of our technology-driven lives with 24×7 news, entertainment and more information than we sometimes know what to do with it – where would or could we go? Yes, perhaps Alaska. More of a wild frontier than anything else we have here in the intercontinental United States. Could we truly find a place of solitude that has not yet been touched by the ravages of modern man? And if we were able to, would our soft minds and bodies be able to adapt? Would we miss our devices and our television and the instant gratification to which we’ve become accustomed or would we relish their absences – growing and discovering more about ourselves than we ever thought possible?
To live off the land while being subjected to it at the same time. To quickly learn we have more strength and resolve than we currently realize. To move forward – always – one step at a time while accepting there will occasionally (and likely!) be setbacks. To hunker down within ourselves and find out what is truly important. To understand what our priorities really are or should be.
Yes. I think we could do that or rather I’d like to think that we could. It is both scary and wondrous to consider living our lives in such a challenging manner. Whether we might choose to pursue such a life remains to be seen.
“It is not the strongest or the most intelligent who will survive but those who can best manage change.” ~ Charles Darwin