For anyone who missed my last post, I officially resigned as KOW (Keeper of the World). As I am no longer the KOW, I thought I’d update you on how that’s going.
On the second day free from the responsibility of all humankind — and much of the animal kingdom — I found I had some time to think about my own life. A landmark birthday was coming up and with my preoccupation with keeping all creation happy, I had pushed aside the niggling thoughts of age, retirement, personal goals, and dreams. With massive amounts of brain space now freed to devote to my own business, all those points came rushing in. What happened to those dreams I had when I was 20, 30, or even 40? What about all that adventure I had yearned for over the years, but was too busy with the day-to-day to go for?
I sat back and realized nothing in the world was stopping me, except me. I have recently been pondering the god of technology, and to paraphrase: the god giveth and the god taketh away. Technology giveth access to information, instant communication, and boundless entertainment. Technology taketh away privacy, solitude, and muscle mass. I wondered what it would be like to go back to a simpler time. So I turned off the electricity.
I then felt around for the lighter by the fireplace, lit a candle, and hunted for the emergency oil for the antique oil lamp on the mantle. I found it, filled the lamp, and lit it. I admire Abraham Lincoln. It’s hard to read by the light of an oil lamp and I imagine a fireplace wouldn’t be much better. I was getting hungry. No problem. I had cooked turnip green soup in the crockpot and it was still piping hot. What would happen when it cooled down, though? And what about breakfast? Should I plan to build a fire in the fire pit and cook eggs in a cast iron pan? Like Scarlett O’Hara, I decided to think about that tomorrow.
After I ate my soup in the ambiance of the flickering oil lamp, I returned to my book. The eye strain made me sleepy and I gave it up. So THIS is why they went to bed with the chickens, I thought. It was too dark to do anything else.
I slept well, as my bedroom had no blue or amber glow emanating from the television, cable box, and clock radio. All was unplugged. When I awoke before first light, I had no clue what time it was so I just got up. I stumbled into the kitchen, lit the candle, and debated the merits of coffee in a sauce pan over the fire pit. I plugged in the coffee pot. Once it was going, I got out the cream and a cup, drank a glass of water and looked out the window. Still pitch black. Then I happened to catch the clock on the stove (too hard to unplug). Four a.m. That might be great if I had a cow to milk, but as it was, it was just too early. But I was awake, so I made the best of it and got to work an hour early, where I dried my hair and put on makeup in a bathroom with electricity. My commitment, such as it was, did not exceed the boundaries of my own home.
After work, I went home and automatically turned on the air conditioner. When I realized I had again violated my back-to-basics ideal, I felt a brief qualm, but since I didn’t plug in the television or the microwave, I figure it balanced out. You don’t bite off pioneer life all in one big gulp. Then I sat down to think some more about what was ahead in the next phase of my life.
I had always wanted to ride a horse on the Appalachian Trail, camping along the way. I’m pretty sure that’s not going to happen. So what could I do to break away and have an adventure? I could sell my house, buy a camper, and be a nomad. But my day job as a mild mannered office coordinator is not conducive to nomad life, so how would I be able to afford the gas or the campground fees? I marked nomad off the list. Besides, I’ll be able to travel after I sell the great American novel. Right?
My contemplation turned to where I hoped to go in my life, which led to where I came from, all the way back to the earliest ancestors I had been able to trace. Then the perfect idea came to me. I could do something radical for my next-decade birthday. I could explore my ancestry and fill the need for adventure all in one fell swoop. (What the heck is a fell swoop?) I could go to Ireland, meet Sullivans and McCraws, and let my genetic memory bask in total recall.
But what would my family think? What would they like to do to celebrate my birthday? IThen I remembered it was not my job to please the world, only to be loving and considerate. So now, it is three days before my birthday and I am sitting in a pub in Dublin, Ireland. As I raise my glass of cider, I realize that living my own life did not cause even one little bird to go hungry. To all you potential KOWs out there, let it go. It’s not your job. Sláinte.