I’ve always had this kind of pull in two directions. I had thought it was something unique to me, which is kind of hilarious when I think about it because general advice I offer to friends and family is that whatever problem you’re facing, you’re not alone. This doesn’t necessarily fall in line with that so much. What I am speaking to is a kind of romanticised alternate life. A cabin in the woods somewhere, disconnect from the hustle and bustle of modern life. And the other direction would be cementing myself in modern life and doing my part to ensure its longevity. Well, it’s not quite that simple…
What reminded me lately of this is a narrative in modern culture. Phrases like, ‘harmonious living’, ‘simpler times’, ‘utopian society’ and the more negative perspectives such as, ‘climate emergency’, ‘mass surveillance’, ‘dystopian future’ are getting thrown around. And I dare say they’re just conceptual fabrications. They don’t actually exist in the real world. They’re just in our heads on repeat. Perhaps someday either side could become a reality, but I don’t think anyone truly knows what the future holds.
For me, deep down, there’s a part that just wants to break free and disconnect. While at the surface I have embed myself in modern life and justify partaking in it. It reminds me of something I heard: that villagers in remote communities yearn to break the shackles of their simplistic and often debilitating lives, they can’t wait to go to the big smoke, get a job and watch infomercials late at night. While often, as is my experience, those stuck in the city working a 9 – 5 gig they hate, can’t wait to get away. Whether it be on a holiday or to a simpler life down by the coast or up in the mountains.
Either way, I think we can all agree, we take what we have for granted. Caught in indecision about what’s best for us, while continuing to engage in our undesirable life. Sounds very human.
The fact of the matter is, as far as I can tell, few villagers make it to the city and few city dwelling day dreamers make it to the self-functioning and glorified cabin off the grid. I must admit, those that do make it seem to like it. But is this just all the desire of something we don’t have? And making it a reality. That secret affair with what’s over the fence?
I have also had this tug of war manifest within the confines of my backdrop. I’ve pursued perfection, the need to dot the ‘I’s and cross the ‘T’s, to be a high-functioning productive junkie. And I’ve also completely let go, got out of bed the moment my eyes opened with no regard for what the day holds but completely certain it would be grand, I’ve eaten when I was hungry, went where the wind blew me, cried when something was sad and laughed uncontrollable whether justified or not… However, as mentioned, this was all possible without changing post codes.
Now, I must admit, having this war of worlds diagnosed as Bipolar kind of made sense. I found what I wanted but I didn’t realise manifesting my need for peace and harmony without leaving my living room could have ultimately resulted in my demise. I guess it goes to show, if you do lose the plot, perhaps you should have embraced that part of your personality yearning for a change of scenery sooner. Oh… well.
I don’t know what it is though. I feel like there’s something to uncover with this clash of worlds… Being conflicted seems to be healthy. Why is that? If you’re conflicted it means you want more (for yourself, I guess?). So, what’s wrong with striving towards something? Well, I guess in my case my subconscious yearning took over. I took that much awaited change in lifestyle, essentially overnight. Something in me ignited, for whatever justifiable reason.
I was actually thinking about this when I started a draft of my second novel – The Cost of Two Worlds. I’ve kind of put it aside for the time being besides finishing about a third of it. Anyway, the title’s enough to pull on my heart strings. Because this romanticised alternative way of being that was under my surface exploded in spectacular fashion. It really could have cost me everything. But I made my way back, despite my own bleak outlook at the time.
Do we have to choose? Or can we have either foot in a sandpit and make our minds up when we’re good and ready, or alternatively just stand there defiant until one drags us in/we have no choice.
The moral of the storey is perhaps it’s worth thinking deeply about that seductive, different and distant world that seems delightful but you don’t completely know is right for you. Escaping the pressures of modern living, perhaps doesn’t necessarily mean you need to lose touch with the reality you currently inhabit, maybe it’s as simple as going away camping and getting fuck up with your mates, or maybe that’s just me.