Watching the sun set through a gap in the tree line, whilst enjoying a beer in a hot tub. Rocking gently in chairs as old as the cabin, whilst the twilight and sounds of the forest consumed our awareness. The porch our new domain. Waking in the morning to the sounds of rainfall on the tin covered cabin roof, echoing through the silence of our isolation.
I have spent two days, off grid. No 4G, 3G or 2G, no wifi, or signal of any description.
It seemed strange and in contrast to a few days earlier in the Washington DC metro where, on a platform of maybe fifty people, I had counted only six who were not engaged with their mobile phone.
We live in an Internet world. So much so, that to be without it for only two days seems unfamiliar. As if something is missing. It seems frustrating because connection with the outside world is lost. Yet what is rediscovered is a connection with a different outside world. One of nature, contemplation, beauty.
The cabin had a visitor book, where many before us had recorded their message after their stay. A book. Even that a throwback to a time recently lost. Not an online feedback or comments page, no star rating or ‘liking’. Instead personal messages to our host. Many had recorded their enjoyment of the isolation and total peace.
There was something pleasing to write our thoughts, knowing that other travellers would happen by, to this cabin in the forest, and read and share with others past, present and future.
For the last few days I have been working south of the river in London, returning north of the Thames to catch a train home. The journey is typically about 35 minutes on a bus.
On the return journey in the evening, twice I have been inspired to get off the bus and walk, because the bus has been stationary for some time; gridlocked. I have walked the bus route passing buses. Buses going to my destination. Four yesterday. Walking trumps bus.
My train has been delayed travelling home on one day. Over an hour’s delay. So much so, that I possibly could have ridden a bike home faster.
Now I am on a train and, whilst I have a seat, hundreds are standing. Standing still, to travel tens of miles towards their homes. Standing and yet moving at maybe 90mph.
It seems in our ‘modern’, ‘advanced’ world that much is turning upside down. I wonder what else will do so over the next decade? Not just travel… but what we do, who we care for, what we pay attention to, who we communicate with and how, what we appreciate, what society is, what community is, what rewards us, where we find joy, where we find peace…
Maybe a new set of top trump cards is called for?
Our lives are a reflection of our thoughts.
Nurture calm, tranquil, compassionate thoughts for yourself and others, and your life will reflect the peace that comes with those thoughts.
Draw your attention instead to the busy circumstances of a modern world, with all its urgency and expectation, then you can be drawn into a whirlpool of haste, a cacophony of noise, a blur of striving from which peace is hard to find.
Think about the life you want. Live the life you think.