Sunday, 7 September 2014

Bereft on the Winds of Wifi

“We are an exceptional model of the human race. We no longer know how to produce food. We no longer can heal ourselves. We no longer raise our young. We have forgotten the names of the stars, fail to notice the phases of the moon. 

We do not know the plants and they no longer protect us. We tell ourselves we are the most powerful specimens of our kind who have ever lived. But when the lights are off we are helpless. We cannot move without traffic signals. 

We must attend classes in order to learn by rote numbered steps toward love or how to breast-feed our baby. We justify anything, anything at all by the need to maintain our way of life. And then we go to the doctor and tell the professionals we have no life. 

We have a simple test for making decisions: our way of life, which we cleverly call our standard of living, must not change except to grow yet more grand. We have a simple reality we live with each and every day: our way of life is killing us.” - Charles Bowden

I adore books. More than the average person you run across but probably less than those who could not live anywhere but a library and make their careers all that and more. I could have, but somehow I find myself working as a teacher, and in England no less. I might pin the few English teachers I had in high-school as my reasons, or my mom, or the fact they do get summers off. Whatever reason landed me here, I am here and that is that. 

Thing is, many of those potential reasons are very much based in me going along the push-car path of domesticity. Domesticity into society. The sort who follows pathways and generally doesn't cut the corner and tread on the grass. The sort who looks both ways and then some (especially around here. No one can drive and they certainly don't put much stock in pedestrians attempting to cross streets at crosswalks. 

I moved to my permanent residence over part of the weekend and that consisted of at least one hiccup (as any point of movement usually does). This time it was a loss of wifi and my landlady and her husband had gone to Cambridge for the weekend. For two days I was without wifi. I hummed and shuffled. I tapped and I twitched. I went out to the morning market, dropped a gift off to the lady I lived with temporarily and got called "her first Canadian friend in Bury" (which made me feel rather like a circus oddity) and went shopping for a good stock now that I have the permament space to store things, as well as my very own classroom which needs to be filled with resources beyond what the English Department is able to provide. But then, it was back home, to no wifi. What did I do? I wrote. Having no wifi is a rather useful method of getting yourself focused, or sitting in a cafe or library, which is what I did after only a few hours of impatience. 

All that is to say, I was lost without my wifi. I felt stranded. I started really missing home. I really wanted to call my mom and dad. I worried what they might be thinking. 

One day and a bit. No wifi. That structure that is in place. That structure which began with the invention of my adored books. That sussed out oral storytelling and made it some novelty item that gets taught in schools as "this is how the ancients used to do things." That made me miss home and get more emotional than I have in all these three weeks. 

Loosing that connection. That safety net. The key that means I never truly am in a different world or on a different planet because I can always, always search up photos, news and family. 

How people did it one hundred years ago. I haven't a clue. But that brings me right back to how this is one huge and ironic, tragedy. 

I have been so domesticated, so educated, so ruler-straightened that I show up to trains, to meetings, to casual events, ridiculously early, because I cannot even trust that the clocks I follow are neccessarily in line with the clocks everything else follows, or that my sense of direction (which is generally good, until factoring in medieval side-streets and lack of signposts), also falls prey to not trusting in the systems I have agreed to live by, just because, they might, they just might fail me, like the wifi did. 

I have no control over them. But then, did the ancients have control over the stars, the sun, the tide or the heat-waves that bring about drought? No. Of course not. Except that they learned to live by the whims of nature. They learned to go with the flows of up, down and sideways. They did not seek to bend nature to their will and thus, if something failed. It failed. It was no end of the world. It just meant moving on. Starting over. Getting up and dusting knees off. 

Then again, in our reckoning of "ancient" that still covers societies that were forming cities and farms, naval fleets and grand empires. They were the beginning of what we are today. 

I see all this. I recognise all this. I agree with all this. Our domesticity is death. 

But do I want to let go of it? No. After all, I adore my books. Is that wrong of me? Is that wasteful? Lazy? Hypocritical? 

Judge me. Go ahead. Perhaps I am all of the above. Perhaps I am only a few. Perhaps I am nothing at all but just another sheep who has delusions of grandeur (another thing which is just a product of our domesticity). See, if I was to be a real person, like truly, really, living my understandings, I would get up and live in a hatch/hut in the woods, live off the land, own nothing but the clothes I wore and meditate all day. 

Thing is, that's not living. Living is experience. Living is exploring. If the world is water, then living as a human is a tide pool. We are part of a bigger picture but sometimes we are a part of a picture that is focused inward, on ourselves and our little life that goes about as far as our feet can physically take us and our mind is comfortable with.

Most people here think I am crazy and brave to have done what I did. Moving out here, newly qualified and obviously entirely new to the school system, let alone the culture itself. (No matter how much you learn and know about a place, you don't know it until you live it). 

I just did it for the experience. Like I am doing teaching. I did it because I was terrified of it. I am no orator. I am no outgoing, bubbly individual. I adore my books. I would live in those all day. Books could be my entire world if I wanted. But actually, I haven't read much in the past months. Not a proper novel anyway. I have been too busy experiencing and working toward being able to experience.

Charles Bowden would probably despair of me but I, I will just keep trekking on. I've gotten this far as the domesticated animal that I am. This is life. This is experience. I am living in this era as one particular human girl among billions. I'm not special. I'm perhaps even a bit dull. 

What matters though is I stop. Sometimes. I watch the stars. I wander through woods. 

Perhaps that is no better then those people who feel good about their token contribution to the betterment of the environment through their measly weekly recycling but at least, at least it is a start. 

Check back with me another time. Whenever that may be. I do at least, follow the belief that you cannot put a clock or moon cycles to the development of knowledge. 

Learning life by the day.


1 comment:

  1. Alyse, I hope wifi is down more often if it inspires you to write. Another beautifully written and insightful post. You are not in the least bit boring. You are a child of the Universe though...brilliant in your existence and being. Keep experiencing, even how you respond to the lack of wifi. It's all good!

    Hugs...and Skype when you can.