I don’t have a television, a radio, or a newspaper subscription. You might say that I’m living in the past, but I’m actually living in the present. I’m not avoiding modern day life, I’m simply choosing not to partake in some of its trappings. The world has changed since the time of my youth and for better or worse, it is changing faster now than ever before. As such, if I want to maintain my sanity and stay grounded in reality I need to take responsibility for what’s important and spend my time on those things rather than everything else.
My goal is to live mindfully by focusing on what really matters while ignoring what doesn’t. I have made a conscious effort to spend less time watching TV, surfing the internet, reading newspapers and magazines, listening to podcasts and watching mindless videos on YouTube. I also intend to spend more time in nature, maintaining my property, and spending more quality time with my friends instead of checking email. One might say that I am rejecting modernity but they would be wrong; I am not rejecting anything because as far as I can tell we are all embracing this new era whether we like it or not.
In a world where we are constantly inundated with notifications, dings, and beeps, it can be easy to forget the simple joys of a handwritten letter. I have a penchant for writing letters and receiving letters from friends—it’s a lost art that I refuse to let die. There’s something about taking the time to sit down and put pen to paper that feels much more personal than firing off a text or an email.
When someone takes the time to write you a letter, they’re telling you that they want to share what they’re thinking and feeling in the moment. We don’t need any other distractions—just one another. There is nothing like reading a letter in the morning while having my toast and tea.
In this fast-paced, constantly-connected world, it’s easy to forget how to slow down and have a conversation. We’ve lost the art of effective communication, and as a result, we often miss out on important opportunities to connect with others. And, in turn, we feel lonely. It’s time to remember that human connection is one of the most important needs for happiness.
I remember my high school English teacher who always encouraged me to be mindful and focus on my goals. I wrote down a list of what I wanted to achieve and talked about it with him regularly. This really helped me stay on track and avoid getting caught up in things that didn’t matter. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve continued to do this and it’s really helped me live a more fulfilling life.
One thing I used to worry about was how society is constantly telling us how we should act or look like. There are so many messages coming at us through media, advertisements, social media—there’s no way for us not to be influenced by them! To avoid all these messages from seeping into our lives too much, I try to limit my time on Facebook as much as possible. It can feel impossible sometimes but it’s worth it for me because I want to keep feeling like myself rather than someone else’s idea of who they think I should be.
I wanted to retire by age 40, buy a farm, and I deeply wanted to get married to a woman who shared similar interests as me. I set out to achieve these goals, and for years and years, I saved money; eventually I bought a farm, met Amelia, and eventually we married. Avoiding the trappings of modern day life was harder than I thought. I had to learn to live without cable TV, and because we live in Vermont, also with limited cellphone coverage. It was tough at first, but eventually I got used to it. Now, I’m happier and healthier because of it. I spend more time outside with my wife and friends, read more books (some from the library), listen to music on vinyl instead of the radio, sleep better, eat healthier, and write almost every morning. For me, avoiding the trappings of modern day life is a necessity in order to stay sane in today’s society.
In a world that is constantly trying to sell us things we don’t need and telling us we’re not good enough, it’s important to focus on ourselves. When we devote time to things that truly matter, we learn what truly matters, and what doesn’t. For me, that means spending time with my wife, getting lost in a good book, and taking care of my mental and physical health. If we can focus on ourselves, we can be happy and content despite what the world tells us. We will feel more grounded and find success much easier.
I started to feel like I was getting lost in the shuffle of everyday life. I was letting my phone dictate how I spent my free time, and I wasn’t really living in the moment. That’s when my wife suggested we start journaling our thoughts and feelings. We write in Moleskine notebooks and use computers to write our blogs. This has helped us to stay present and connect with our thoughts and emotions. It also made me realize that some days I don’t have any connection to who I am as a person. It feels like a big void sometimes, but now I can look back on what we’ve written and see how much progress we’ve made as individuals and as a couple. We’re learning more about ourselves every day, and it makes me happy to know that I’m not alone in this struggle for authenticity.
I used to be a habitual multi-tasker. I would have several tabs open on my computer, I’d be talking on the phone, and I’d be working on a project all at the same time. I eventually realized that this wasn’t sustainable, as I was never really focusing on any one thing, and I was instead getting scattered. My wife and I decided to adopt a minimalist lifestyle. We decluttered our home and got rid of anything that we weren’t using. And now, we focus on doing one thing at a time. We have the things we enjoy, such as books and toy trains, and other collectables, and minimal furniture. This has helped us to be more productive and to enjoy the moment more. We find that as soon as we are done with one task, we can move onto another without being interrupted. It also helps us to spend less money because instead of buying things for one purpose, we buy things for many different purposes.
My cameras are my prized possessions because they help me keep track of my life in a way that nothing else can. I love my cameras because they allow me to capture memories and moments that I would otherwise miss. I can document my life and the lives of those around me with ease, and I never have to worry about losing a photo or having it stolen. I take a lot of pictures here at our farm. The skies continue to shine down upon us, gracing the landscape with beautiful blue cloudscaped skies that complete the rural landscape.
I used to drive to a park almost everyday. I would walk around, admiring the scenery and getting some exercise. This too became unsustainable and unnecessary; our farm became our own private park, and as such, I started spending more time outside, maintaining and enjoying the property. I found that I didn’t miss the park at all, as I feel happier and more connected to nature here on our own property.
I still make time to get out into nature, but I also prioritize spending time with my wife and close friends. I find that these relationships are more fulfilling and provide me with the support I need to avoid the traps of modern day life. Weather permitting, I can go fully naked on my property anytime without restrictions. The absence of clothes keeps me mindful and present in the moment. I also prefer to go barefoot as much as possible, as this helps me feel more grounded and connected to the earth.
The reality is that we live in a hyper-connected world where people spend too much time indoors or on their phones. That’s why it’s important to disconnect once in awhile—to reconnect with ones true self and the environment around us.
I was always insecure and cared about what other people thought when I was younger. I would constantly second-guess myself and my decisions. It wasn’t until I realized that no one’s opinion matters but my own that I started living my life for myself. Aside from the opinion of my wife, I couldn’t care less about what other people think. I know what I want and I simply go after it. What other people think is their problem, not mine.
Instead of simply getting caught up in the trap of modern day life, I instead stay focused on my goals. I write down my goals, discuss them with my wife. If my wife and I conclude that they’re worthwhile, I pursue them. I don’t follow a schedule or routine anymore; instead, my wife and I spend the day doing whatever we want to, staying connected and grounded in the moment, and we go to bed when we feel tired, and wake up in the morning when we feel refreshed. Others are often skeptical of our lifestyle, but we wouldn’t have it any other way.
The images used in this piece were taken specifically for this article, and were processed as black and white to evoke nostalgic feelings.
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