Małgorzata Piechowicz-Pietruszka –
A book was recommended to me, so I read it. The suggestive subtitle — Tales from a Life Without Technology — seemed as naturally luring to me as a fly to a pike — those who will read the book, will know. Anyhow, right now, after turning the last page, it feels as if I have just lost a friend whom I had never even met before and most probably will never see or hear from again.
Mark Boyle, also known to the world as the ‘moneyless man’, has written a book The Way Home. He wrote it entirely with a pencil in his off-grid, handmade cabin somewhere in rural Ireland, where he decided to lead a life with no technology.
‘Eccentric’, ‘escapist’, ‘romantic’, ‘privileged Westerner’ are all the names he was given after announcing his decision to disconnect from the modern, fast paced, technology-saturated society to connect with nature, his inner self and a simpler life.
“What I think people mean by ‘the simple life’ is the uncomplicated essence of it all, and, yes, there is a timeless simplicity to it. I’ve found that when you peel off the plastic that industrial civilisation vacuum-packs around you, what remains couldn’t be simpler. Healthy food. Something to be enthusiastic about. Fresh air. A sense of belonging and aliveness. Good water. Purpose. Intimacy. A vital and deep connection to life. The kind of things I did without for too many years.”
‘Extreme’ was the one word coming to my mind when I started reading the book. Abandoning the Internet, smartphones and computers is one thing, but living without electricity, a car or a lighter to start a fire was the next step (or a step back?), that my mind couldn’t entirely grasp. However, with every page turned, it was becoming clear to me that what we think is extreme in our contemporary world was in fact normal perhaps even a generation ago. Yet, we no longer have the skills of our parents and grandparents to live this basic kind of life. We are becoming increasingly disconnected with the land, nature, our neighbours and even our souls. Mark Boyle, to me now, is not an eccentric but one of the bravest man I have heard about. He listened to his soul’s call and followed it, leaving behind all the comforts and conveniences we now so easily take for granted. Or at least he is trying.
“I had no idea if unplugging from industrial world would mean I’d lose all touch with reality, or finally discover it.”
There is something deeply meditative about his memoir. Perhaps it’s the descriptions of wood chopping or candle making, or the honesty of the raw-kind-of-everything that the author now surrounds himself with. Whatever it is, it may reawake that ‘primitive’, primal part in you that longs for simpler, quieter and more fulfilling life. I am sure that the longing is in each of us, no matter how thickly covered by the technological dust, it still there waiting to be revived.
The book will certainly make you question the status quo of today’s world; the way we live, eat, work, love and disconnect with one another. The ‘norm’ will suddenly look quite depressing. And although I am not against all technology, and I do not even aspire to live a life such as Boyle’s, his choices made me wonder about the consequences of what we now call ‘progress’ and how much more of nature we will sacrifice to maintain our comfortable lives.
Meanwhile, when you are probably reading it on a screen, spending yet another minute of your life looking at what I typed on yet another screen, Boyle is somewhere there foraging, fishing or lighting a fire to cook his dinner. Now, who is more alive?