by Chris de Serres


Unplugged in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness

“And I am sure that I never read any memorable news in a newspaper. If we read of one man robbed, or murdered, or killed by accident, or one house burned, or one vessel wrecked, or one steamboat blown up, or one cow run over on the Western Railroad, or one mad dog killed, or one lot of grasshoppers in the winter, – we need never read of another. One is enough. If you are acquainted with the principle, what do you care for a myriad instances and applications?”

                                                                                                                            – Thoreau

It seems so close-minded.  To disconnect from the events of the world.  How can we possibly make informed decisions.  The constant loop of news and the way in which it’s delivered has changed us.  I spend so much time and energy keeping up with current events.  It diminishes my capacity to be productive.  To be present for my family.

In my younger years I would go on long treks into the mountains.  I’d be away for a week or two.  No contact with the outside world.  No devices.  We didn’t have IPhones or even GPS devices to bring with us.  It took me a couple of days to come to terms with the loss of the remote control and radio.  Nothing.  Just the sounds of my own thoughts.

When my time was over I came back, civilization felt so jarring.  So overstimulated.  But I didn’t know it until I spent some time away from it.  Us humans are good at building complex environments around us.  It allows us to do many things at the same time, while paying full attention to nothing.  It was so refreshing to be cut off from the constant flow of humanity.

So much about how we live our lives doesn’t matter.  What we pay attention to.  Where and how we spend our time.  We intuitively know this to be true.  Hence the huge self-help industry that invokes us to “live in the now” over and over again.

Some folks never even have the opportunity that I had.  To disappear for a while to a wild place that has no regard whatsoever for me and my needs.  We are simple creatures in a big world, but it’s not so obvious to us.  This world we live in is all straight lines and squares.  It is predictable and familiar.  It deprives us of awareness.

We grow tired and weary of another book, another guru, or another inspiring video telling us how we should live our lives.  We know.  We don’t need any more viral youtube videos to remind us.