A friend remarked to me recently that she spends too much time dealing with food. It’s not just a matter of driving to and navigating the various food sources, which in her case number at least half a dozen routinely, but nutrition research, coupon clipping, price comparison … she’s a meticulous shopper. She also has a small vegetable garden. She also cans. She also cooks 95% of her meals, a scratch cook, going out to eat pretty much only to honor social obligations.
If you were to add up all that time, all the time spent getting forks of actual food into her actual mouth, it would be a whole lotta time.
Back when I worked at The State in Columbia, one of my newsroom colleagues lived for the weather. Local, state, national, even international forecasts … he could rattle them off real-time at the drop of a hat. Even local forecasts for other cities. It was as if he had a weather receiver implanted in his brain.
How much time he must have spent, pre-internet-ubiquity, accessing and digesting weather data I cannot imagine.
A day or two ago, I heard an interview with a man who believes not only that we’ve we lost touch with the earth, but that physical contact with the skin of our planet is necessary to our well being. He wasn’t speaking in vague romantic terms, either. He believes that lives spent insulated from the planet surface (by highways, floors, sidewalks, etc.) are lives spent cut off from a source of energy that we need to be properly human.
In the same way that some countries require a period of national service, I wonder how much healthier, how much wiser we’d be if we required a period of living off the grid. Sink or swim. How many of us would come running back to civilization after such an ordeal? How many of us would happily disappear?