It was 11pm when I checked my email for the last time and turned off my phone for what I hoped would be forever.
No running water, no car, no electricity or any of the things it powers: the internet, phone, washing machine, radio or light bulb. Just a wooden cabin, on a smallholding, by the edge of a stand of spruce.
In this honest and lyrical account of a remarkable life without modern technology, Mark Boyle, author of The Moneyless Man, explores the hard won joys of building a home with his bare hands, learning to make fire, collecting water from the stream, foraging and fishing.
What he finds is an elemental life, one governed by the rhythms of the sun and seasons, where life and death dance in a primal landscape of blood, wood, muck, water, and fire – much the same life we have lived for most of our time on earth. Revisiting it brings a deep insight into what it means to be human at a time when the boundaries between man and machine are blurring.
|Netgalley||eARC||304||Oneworld Publications||Non-Fiction||June 11th, 2019|
Well, I don’t aim to insult/offend people within the first sentence of my review but I think I would not be overexaggerating if I said that about 80% of the modern, first world population – at the very least counting 70-80% of Europe- would NOT at all be able to follow in Mark Boyle’s footsteps. I am not fully cut out for that either, no matter how much I would like to be. Kudos, Mark- you’re my new hero!
The Way Home is more than an experiment agreed on a night out to live without technology. Mark’s bloody serious about it. It’s going back to the roots, the hard and back-breaking and dirty way but damn if it ain’t rewarding for the soul! I am talking about no phone, no computer- want to reach Mark? Write him a letter, on paper with pen, and pop it in the post. No fuel/electricity powered tools, no cars, no tractors – get a wheelbarrow to deliver stuff from A to B and cycle or walk where you need to go. It’s not just the small, immediate stuff… Mark has to think ahead. Waaaay ahead to survive the winter coming, or prepare for the spring ahead to survive the winter coming. Store food… make sure there’s plenty of firewood. Store food… how simple it sounds. But it’s not! You need to tend the ground, make compost, maintain the crops, harvest the crops and then do various things with various produce to make it last.
But the most fascinating aspect of this book for me was the time-keeping… I have always wondered about what it would be like if we simply no longer had clocks on the walls and on our mobile phones and smart watches and all that shebang telling us to constantly be somewhere, to constantly rush to the next destination, when to wake up, go to sleep, eat, everything! Mark said no to the concept or time keeping as we all know it and I am just fucking jealous that he gets to experience it! I am! It must be absolutely marvellous! Just let the body adjust to not feeling like there’s a someplace to be because the clock says so; fall back into the natural rhythm and do things because your very survival and wellbeing depends on it. Go to sleep when it gets dark or when the body is drained after a day’s work and wake up when you wake up and keep going about life. Sounds self centric? Hell yes. The way it should be- we should live and BE HERE for ourselves, not for a greedy corporate agenda. No matter how high and mighty we humans think ourselves, we’re still simply a part of nature just like wolves, pigs, trees and fish. We’re just lucky to be at the top of the food chain so to speak.
Ah, this was a book I thoroughly enjoyed. If it’s about making the light shine on living the natural way, I am all ears. Mark also has this wonderful, lovely way of telling about his daily life. Maybe it also helped that he lives in rural Ireland where people are friendly and stick together. It’s a very personal account as Mark takes us through the seasons and days and wins and losses. I’m not there, I’m not living it but I could feel the joy of it all. Hardships included.