The Enduring Lie of a Golden Age – Part 2…This is Personal

Two weeks ago I wrote of the idea so many people have that somewhere in the past there was a ‘Golden Age’ when everything was so much better than today.

I am now going to post what might seem a bit of a contradiction to what I wrote then.

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More and more, we are losing our connection with the natural world.

Everyone would have a different opinion on what is meant by the phrase ‘quality of life’, but for me if I am surrounded by concrete structures, with a lack of trees and flowers and birds, animals and insects, if the building I am in consists of electronic devices, plastic, steel, and artificial floor coverings, if my engagement with the day to day tasks of this building consists of pressing buttons, then I feel my own quality of life is much diminished.

A common post appearing on Facebook is of a picture of a cabin or cottage in the wilderness somewhere, with the caption ‘Could you live here for a month without TV or phone signal or internet for $25,000?’

Could I do it? I’d bite your hand off for the chance to do it. And I wouldn’t even need the money as an incentive.

No press-the-button entertainment. Setting and lighting a log fire instead of switching on the heating. No dishwasher. No constant barrage of emails, texts and phone calls. No street lights – or streets.

I’d bite yer hand off.

Whether I am at home, working, or walking in the country, always there seems to be the sound of aircraft passing overhead. Day and night. Constantly.

And unless you’re in the middle of a national park, there always seems to be traffic noise. Even when I’m walking in the midst of woodland, or through fields, it’s always present as a background noise.

And anywhere near a road or street, it is just constant. And I find that extremely stressful.

This is one reason why I love being amongst mountains. Usually, they are remote enough that the traffic noise is finally silenced. Frequently, they are away from air routes. And, of course, there are far fewer people around. And those that are there don’t usually seem to be glued to mobile phones or playing music.

And I’m nostalgic. Well, I’m in my sixties now, I’m allowed to be. And that brings us back to the post about a supposed golden age. Nostalgia is a yearning for the past, with the inference that it was better than the present day. There are, of course, many things about today that are much less than perfect – I’ve called out a few of the things I don’t like earlier in this post – but only a fool would deny that huge medical advances have improved all our lives for the better, social security has largely alleviated the horrors of abject poverty and, at least in the affluent west, our lives are not subject to the whims of despots.

But although I can expect to live to a greater age than my forebears – at least in theory – I would be willing to trade some of that for a time when life was less complicated, a life where I didn’t feel constantly bombarded by social media and advertising. A life that was lived more slowly.

Not a Golden Age, certainly, but one I would happily live in.

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52 thoughts on “The Enduring Lie of a Golden Age – Part 2…This is Personal

  1. I couldn’t agree more, Mick. Whilst I enjoy dabbling with the trappings of the modern age – blogging, nonsensical conversations on Facebook, for example – I am never happier then when immersed in the sounds and smells of nature, phone signal and 4G a near impossibility, friends, fires and good food and drink my entertainment. Every time has its good and its bad, but the things that are timeless are the best.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. The timeless things…that’s very well put, Lucy. And it’s one reason I tend to set all of my fiction somewhere in the past – those timeless things are easy to write about, without having to chuck in the dishwashers and social media. I’m comfortable with it. Of course, Poirot and Old College sort of fit into that too, do they not?

      Liked by 2 people

      1. They most certainly do! I was annoyed to have to include mobile phones at Old College, but their presence is kept to the bare minimum. I am quite disconnected from the modern world myself, so writing about it doesn’t feel right, for me. But I can’t be doing without our chats about otters and the like, I must say!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I remember sitting in a dark school library, with high bookshelves. The chair was one of those comfortable armchairs and I would sit for hours reading. There was no landline in the room and mobile phones had yet to be invented. Other than the electric light/power supply, the only technology that I can recall was an ancient stainsby (an old-fashioned machine for the production of braile). Today the braille books I read are in flimsy covers and the metal ring binders are in constant danger of becoming detached from the book they are supposed to hold together. I own some older braille volumes, in cloth boards which are much securely bound but RNIB no longer offers this method of binding due to expense although, ironically the modern books are more likely to require replacing than are the older tomes. As for the cottage, I like the idea. However I must confess that being blind I get much of my news from reading the papers online (as well as the BBC) and not having the option to read a print newspaper I would miss internet access. Perhaps the answer is to take a sighted friend with me who can regail me with the world’s news!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Maybe we could allow you a transistor radio in the cottage, Kevin, tuned to the Home Service?

      It sounds as though the Braille bindings are rather like the covers on POD books – they look perfectly nice, but the quality never seems quite as good as those traditionally published. Maybe we could use them to light the log fire, then sit around it with a few beers.

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  3. Mick I am in complete agreement with your thoughts. Often after coming back from Himalayan treks, I feel we humans have insulated our lives so much from nature. Life is always good in those tents up in the Himalayas…exposed to elements of nature!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I know exactly what you mean, Arv. I take occasional trips to Dartmoor, which is an area of moorland in SW England, of about 350 square miles. When I come down off the moors to the towns and roads again, it feels almost unbearably noisy and frantic and awful.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I can relate. Similar sentiments are what brought us to the wilderness of Montana to live in a yurt and then a cabin, off the grid with no TV. But now we’re in Greenwich Village (New York), getting our fill of urban life for a few weeks because sometimes it feels a little too isolating to be so disconnected. I think we’re experiencing a classic case of the-grass-is-always-greener-itis. 🤔

    Liked by 2 people

  5. OK… now my neck hurts. I’ve exceeded my quota of nodding. Dread of cement buildings. yes. Artificial stuff. yes. Electronics everywhere. all the time. yup yup.

    I don’t know about a “golden age” but I do know that the “golden places” are becoming far more scarce. Soon I may be joining you at the AYCE hand buffet…

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Oooh, I’d love that too! Just what you said about manmade noise. Was thinking that the last time I was out for a walk on a country road. As I was thinking how lovely and quiet it was, a helicopter flew over. Sigh…

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Sometimes I really crave some peace and quiet and have been known to have supper and then head straight off to bed about 8pm to read… undisturbed. I plug my ear phones in on my way to work and listen to nothing. It stop being talking to you on the route, which may mean I am anti sociable but it does serve a purpose. I really love Gladstones Library. Having a sleep over there I never speak to anyone save to ask for another dollop of custard on my crumble

    Liked by 2 people

    1. That’s the big Welsh library, isn’t it? I’ve never been there, but I understand it’s…well…big. Do I take it they have a restaurant there, too?

      Peace and quiet! Yes, I remember peace and quiet. When was it…?

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      1. Oh its the most beautiful place. beyond a restaurant…. you can sleep there! Its divine. When the Library has closed you stay on and eat in t he restaurant – have a G & T in front of the open fire – chat to others if you wish and then go up to your bedroom. The Library is equipped with private desks – lamps and wi fi and its near to some stunning walks in a huge park (land)..
        https://www.gladstoneslibrary.org/

        Liked by 1 person

  8. You’re so right, Mick. With all the advances that have benefited society comes a cost: the loss of the simpler life, the connection with nature, the time and silence that allows us to simply “be.” And I miss it too…..

    Liked by 1 person

  9. All your comments are why I live in the country. Thirteen acres of mixed oak and pine are just enough. I carry in my armloads of firewood for the wood stove, grumbling a bit when they’re heavy, but later I stare into the fire and bless it for its warmth and flickering beauty.

    The last time we worked a job in San Francisco, I blogged from a Starbucks and stared in horror at the view of a woman hanging out laundry on the fire escape, all the while trying to amuse a toddler in a tiny apartment three floors up. She pays the earth for that apartment, and I’d pay money to be excused from ever trying it.

    On the whole, though, I’m grateful so many want to live in the city. It means there are still large parcels available for those who want them. And perhaps it’s a life cycle thing for some–wanting to live in the city when you’re younger, needing a retreat when you’re older.

    All I know is it will take considerable effort to get me to leave my little forest. I love it here, and I need the solitude. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I would certainly agree with you on all that. And I certainly agree about being grateful that so many people would prefer to stay in cities – I think that every time I go for a walk in the country and after the first half a mile everyone seems to have disappeared. Bliss!

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