Will things go “poof” in 2012? Some scientists say so. And so do people who believe in the Mayan calendar crap. And also people who think Sarah Palin’s going to run for president.
Anyway, I’m going to send you on a little trip. First, read this article. It’s long, yes, but enlightening. Then come back here.
We first heard about this on CBC radio in January. It really caught my kids’ attention; we were in the van when the report aired, and they understood enough to ask me what would happen if we had no more electricity. We bounced ideas back and forth for a while, and generally came to a consensus: we would be okay.
This is because we are fairly outdoorsy people. I was not always the imaginary digital personality you know and love; there was a time when I could go days without ever going indoors. Rivers and lakes, mountains and forests, canoes, kayaks, mountain bikes and hiking boots … that was my life.
I don’t want to brag, but if I were suddenly stranded somewhere — a boreal forest, a parched desert, an island with a smoke monster on it — I would survive just fine. I have those skills, thanks to a good solid Canadian wilderness upbringing.
So if the world gets knocked back to the 18th century, this family would make do. I can build a cabin, catch fish, hunt and trap wild game. I can even rummage through post-apocalyptic abandoned grocery stores for that last can of beans. The kids mentioned farming, and that’s something else we could handle.
But then the kids started thinking about the things they love that run on electric power. No Nintendo DS. No TV. No iPods. No telephones. This got them worried.
And then my oldest son won the day: “We could do like in the olden days. Tell stories and make our own books.”
My daughter chimed in with: “We could do plays for other families, and Daddy can play his guitar.” (In a nightmarish post-apocalyptic wasteland future, my guitar playing will become the most feared thing on the planet.)
I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately because of something I watched on TV recently; the relationship between people and technology was a major theme. It made me ask myself whether my increasingly cyberistic lifestyle was shifting me away from my love of the wild.
But it hasn’t. I still spend a lot of time outdoors. I live a few yards away from an access point to the Trans-Canada Trail, and there are more lakes and rivers within walking distance than there are fast-food outlets. And we take advantage of that.
Would I want to live wild forever? Maybe. There are days when that’s a tempting proposition. Of course, if it were forced on us, I would adapt. I would miss technology for the first little while, I guess. I’d miss podcasting, and emailing, and blogging, and looking at pictures of badly spelled Korean restaurant signs. But I think it would wear off. In the grand scheme of human history, things that plug in have been around for just a tiny, tiny fraction. And there’s something within all of us that’s willing to let those things go, pick up an axe, and start choosing trees to build the perfect little cabin.
In the meantime, I’ve got three more years to keep hanging out with my imaginary friends. And if the big solar storm happens? I know one guy who’ll be saying “I told you so.”