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On a Slower Life

We are very much products of where we’ve come from. My life is strongly colored by my upbringing. I grew up on a farm. I grew up around animals. I had trees and fields. I took bike rides and wrote in notebooks.

I did not have cable television. I did not have the Internet until later in my adolescence, and even then did not have broadband connectivity until college.

I grew up slower.

I wasn’t ignorant. I read voraciously. I wrote and thought. I shared my thoughts in that fledgling collection of wires and computers. I talked to classmates and spent hours on the phone with a friend talking to the wee hours of the morning.

I have no idea what we talked about. Important thingsā„¢ to our teenage minds.

It was a slower life. A life of Sunday afternoon reading under the sunlight or playing baseball in the yard. A weekend of soccer games and ice cream. The long bike rides and long drives as I got older to enjoy the world surrounding me.

hammock on the farm

A world I took for granted as the young often do.

As I get older, I yearn to return to that slower life. I am not cut out for the city. I want to watch fields fill with firefly and lightening dance across the sky. I want the wind to blow over the uncut fields and hear the distant mooing.

I am not cut out for the city. I like my quiet far too much. I don’t understand references to most Nickelodeon shows or the piles of other children’s television my wife can recite from memory.

I had 6 channels. (Maybe 8 if the wind was right.)

I watched the Red Green Show and learned about the Handyman’s Secret Weapon. I spent a lot of time fighting with antennas to marginally improve a picture of a basketball game or The X-Files.

It was a slower life and as I ease into the middle of my third decade of life, it’s that slower life I miss.

(Photos taken Eric Holscher, my brother.)

The Ruralist

The older I get, the more I miss the small barely two stoplight town I grew up in. It’s only 60 miles west of me. It’s a place where my father still can’t get land-based broadband internet. It’s where I grew up without cable TV because the cables stopped at the end of my road. And there weren’t enough people to justify running them back to the few houses that sat on acres of land.

J.D. Bentley writes in The Ruralist

The most redeeming quality of big cities is that their people choose to congregate in small, dense areas, leaving the bulk of the earth to the rest of us.

As I’ve entered my third decade on this earth, that line resonates deeply with me. I grew up with cows and deer for neighbors. I grew up without a working knowledge of the Nickelodeon schedule. I grew up in a quiet place. Where I could sit outside and barely hear another sign of humanity. I’d walk in the woods and take long bike rides past apple orchards and corn fields. I relished the silence. The wind in my ears as I raced down hills and pedaled like a maniac up the next.

When I was a kid, I couldn’t wait to move out of the little town. I could not wait to spread my wings in a bigger city. I escaped to Richmond, VA for college and lived there for a several years afterwards. Then I returned home to the outskirts of Washington, DC. First living in Northern Virginia across the river from it, and now in Maryland to its north.

I like the area where I am now. It’s quiet enough it could almost be mistaken for rural. There are deer and rabbits nearby. I pass geese, ducks and the occasional heron (I think?) on my walk to the Metro.

That’s where the illusion ends. When I cross the barrier from wildlife to concrete and board a train descending underneath DC and into the heart of the city.

By day, I am city dweller, though at least I am close enough to the National Mall and Capitol Reflecting Pool I can still enjoy the ducks, green spaces and people-watching.

But I miss the quiet nights. I miss falling asleep to the wind whipping through trees and across open fields. I miss the cows and occasional rooster.

I miss hearing a world not powered by motors and processors.

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