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Spring in the neighbourhood.
Recently in my morning journal I wrote about how I wish it were the late 1990s and I was still backpacking around the world. In today’s context that translates to living as simply and open to as many new travel experiences as possible.
I know, I know, I’ve written about this subject before but I want to get life streamlined so efficiently that I don’t have to think about anything other than being outdoors and enjoying the world we are all part of. And of course making my family as happy as possible.
Back in the 1990s I had one backpack, a few clothes, a MiniDisc player (I loved those so much!), and a point-and-shoot Pentax that I’d use once in a while to take photos that nobody else would ever see. This was backpacking before everyone carried laptops or iPads everywhere they went. The days of aerograms, poste restante, and prepaid BT phone cards. I’d wake up most mornings in the cheapest backpacker hostel or guesthouse in the area, have breakfast, and then walk all day. Simple.
So simple it eventually got boring and real life returned. I don’t mind real life, but I always enjoy reminiscing of my years backpacking and I still want to live out of a backpack every now and then.
Everyday I think about ways to replicate that past life. How, when we are all constantly wired to the internet with wearable gadgets and smartphones can we return to that kind of simplicity, without modern day distractions? Jaron Lanier in his book, Ten Arguments for Deleting Your Social Media Accounts Right Now says we should all be more like cats — live in the moment but live by your own rules. It’s good advice.
Cats have done the seemingly impossible: They’ve integrated themselves into the modern high-tech world without giving themselves up. They are still in charge. There is no worry that some stealthy meme crafted by algorithms and paid for by a creepy, hidden oligarch has taken over your cat. No one has taken over your cat; not you, not anyone.
Reducing the need to make decisions — Shall I take this lens or that? This backpack or that one? How about doing this hike or that? — makes things so much easier. The only real choices I had to make in the 1990s was where and when to go. It should be the same today. Less choice and fewer distractions (to a certain degree) = more freedom.
One reason I’m enjoying walking sections of the Kiso-ji/Nakasendō at the moment is because there is no need to make choices. The route is already there, it’s been there forever. All I have to do is decide which train to catch to get to the starting point. I can put my phone away and experience the real world on my own terms.
Have anything to say? Feel free to email me.
Posts this month. (I’ve started adding short and simple videos to some of these posts to suppliment the photographs.)
The Tale of Ise - Translated by Peter MacMillan
Two Meals a Day - Mark Sisson
Summer - Ali Smith
The Wiggles - My daughter now has complete control over what music I listen to.