Reset your awareness

It is perfectly normal for everyone to adapt to what is real, what is happening now, how one survives generally. The mind pays close attention to how life plays out on a second by second basis. The skills needed to sustain status quo are memorized not unlike the muscle memory of pianist Jon Baptiste when his fingers know just where to go in the midst of a rapid jazz piece.

The brain is so quick to learn what counts that it can subconsciously drive your car for you while you do meditation because there is nothing to think about.

What do you do to occupy yourself while the dishwasher does the dishes, the clothes washer/drier does the clothes, the furnace creates heat, the air conditioner cools, the car walks for you, cabinet doors close themselves, cars will soon drive themselves, the grocery store provides food and elementary school teachers need not talk to students anymore because a computer screen does it for them.[1]

More than likely, you have chunk time to watch television (while the mind tends to other things.) No fault is intended to ourselves. We live the way our environment suggests we live. Our awareness becomes fixed on present circumstances. Mariner suggests that disconnecting that fixation, sort of like taking off your reading glasses, and focusing on another existential reality may be an interesting experience. For example, what if there were no electricity, public water systems or grocery stores? Not even bicycles?

Plough Magazine has published an article that focuses on that very idea. It is an essay written by Mark Boyle, an economist who decided to live without money.[2] Here is a paragraph:

“I came to the sobering conclusion that at the heart of our ecological, geopolitical, social, and cultural malaise was our extreme disconnection from the sources of what we consume. Money, I reasoned, allowed us to never have to come eye-to-eye with the consequences of our consumerist ways. The wider the degrees of separation, the more room for abuse.”


“. . . surprisingly, over time I found my reasons slowly change. They now have less to do with saving the world, and much more to do with savoring the world. The world needs savoring.”

“it’s off to the spring to fetch the day’s washing and drinking water. Along the way I meet and chat with neighbors. After that it could be any number of things: making cider, hauling logs from the forest, sawing and chopping them by hand, foraging plants and berries, manuring vegetable beds, planting trees, skinning a roadkill pheasant or deer, planting seeds, weeding the herb garden, washing in the lake, whittling a spoon. Or any of a hundred other things modernity had once done for me.”

Mariner is sympathetic to preindustrial society, feeling that industrialization destroys the biosphere as much as it simplifies human life. For example, human activity has driven over 16,000 species to extinction and now the planet itself isn’t too happy. He had a pleasant read of the article and urges the reader to read it as well:

Ancient Mariner


[1] Mothers with toddlers, oddly enough, seem to have no modern replacement for childcare thereby requiring the mind to take care of itself.

[2] The Way Home: Tales from a Life without Technology (Oneworld, 2019) , on which this article is based. He lives in Ireland.

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