Sometimes I feel like living in some small hideaway in some foreign land, away from the eyes of the world. No Internet. No phone. Perhaps an address, so that I may still receive letters, and a typewriter, so that I may still write, but everything stripped to its elements, with little technology and little connectivity to the world at large. A self-contained bubble, where I would live with my wife and we would raise our family and when I died, I would be put in the earth, and the townsfolk would mourn, and I would be forgotten.
I usually have these thoughts when I am in a place where nature dominates humanity, or when I am frustrated with my current situation. Sometimes I am so caught up in the thrill of seeing nature and people, but the barest of man-made structures, that I can see myself living there, communing with nature, and never having to see a soul to be happy.
It’s this aspect of myself that loves to wander, to travel, to see the world. Visiting places on my own, especially off-season, is a wonderful way not just to learn something of the earth and of myself, but to meet other people whom I would normally never meet. Somehow, it’s easier to meet people when they travel in small bunches, rather than when they move in large herds.
And technology. While I can keep in touch easier with friends than before, I don’t, because less effort is involved in writing an email than writing a letter, or connecting through Skype over paying for a long distance call. But being connected is different from feeling connected, for of all the things my friends post on Facebook, few postings dig deep. Emails still have the power to dig deep, but pouring one’s feelings out on a screen seems less personal than doing it on paper.
I like sun, yet I live in a city where the sun is seldom seen during the dying months of October through March. I wake to rain and then sleep under skies cloudless and cold. And so, often around this time, I think about moving to a little village somewhere, far from all I know. Of course, I love my family too much to move too far away from them, as being away from them for too long in Japan was one of the reasons I returned. For that reason, I wonder if my wanderings are over. I am still not tied down to anything. I have no wife, no fiancée, not even a girlfriend, which makes me wonder sometimes if I fit the temperament of this place, or if I should move to an unfamiliar place where the people are more familiar. I can escape in books, and movies, and video games, and music, but one should not shut out the world that exists for ones that do not. There needs to be a balance. Woe is the person who lives without books, but woe, too, to the person who lives exclusively through them.
What I find in sleepy villages and small towns, in friendly people and gorgeous weather, in beautiful seascapes and welcoming forests, is “some small measure of peace, that we all seek, and few of us ever find” (The Last Samurai). I hope someday that I can find and keep that peace. Someday, I will settle down and not feel anxious, not feel the need to run away, to escape, to hide in some remote part of the world. And that is when I will know that I am home.