Do you belong in this day and age? Do you feel comfortable being a citizen of the 21st-century? If you do, explain why — and if you don’t, when in human history would you rather be?
Elliott Marston (Alan Rickman), the antagonist in Quigley Down Under, utters this right before his demise:
. . . Some men are born in the wrong century. I think I was born on the wrong continent . . .
I have always been captivated by those men (and women) who seem as though they were born in the wrong century. I have read biographies of such men, who live as though the calender was ticked back a hundred years or more.
Several years ago I read, The Last American Man, a biographical sketch about Eustace Conway, a self-professed mountain man. Conway has chosen a life of simplicity and hard work. He lives in the mountains of North Carolina and operates as though he were in the 1800’s. He uses antique tools and frontier farming and building methods.
I watched a PBS program on Richard “Dick” Proenneke, who moved to Alaska and hand-built a cabin. He too chose an “ancient” way of life. He survived in the rugged Alaskan wilderness, using techniques from a by-gone era.
I admit, I sometimes wish I had more of these type of men in me. Such rugged individualism. A work ethic and lifestyle straight from the old pioneer frontiersmen. This wish for such an eccentric life, a life lived off the grid so to speak, is not unique to these men.
Into the Wild tells the story of Chris McCandless who ended up chancing fate in the Alaskan wilderness, only to come to a lonely, sad end.
There seems to be something in many, if not most, that compels us to think and to wish for these by-gone days. For some, it may not be a century ago, maybe its a few decades.
Growing up watching The Andy Griffith Show, makes me wish, from time to time, for those old, innocent days. Nostalgia can do funny things to a person. Of course, the truth is, the life and times portrayed by The Andy Griffith Show were long gone by the time it became a national hit.
What would it have been like to have lived in the frontier days? I was born in the 70’s, so maybe the 40’s or 50’s would be a nice place to rewind to and settle down.
Then, I inevitably start thinking of all the down sides to such a thing. The 40’s were hampered by the Great Depression and WWII. The 50’s were ebbing toward the tumultuous 60’s and Vietnam. Farther back? The 19th century, well, let’s just say, no AC pretty well nips that in the bud for me.
So, I suppose, after all is said and done, I am content to remain where I am. I appreciate the modern conveniences and the ones I don’t care for, I simply choose to let them be.
Sometimes we may feel a desire to go back to an earlier time in our own lives, say when we were teens. I remember someone asking me, if it were possible, would I go back to being 15 or 16. It does sound tempting in some ways. I remember answering with a question, “Would I know then what I know now?” If not, what would be the point?
I suppose I am very much a 21st century creature. And that’s okay. Give it another 50 to 100 years and there will be all sorts of people wishing they were where I am now.