Monday, August 28, 2017

Living at the edge of civilization

Photo Credit: Tony White/Flickr

I was on my honeymoon in 1992, on the island of Santorini, Greece. One night we took our rented moped to the town of Finikia on the island’s north end for dinner. After, we walked the town, strolling in and out of shops. The island is magical and its culture – life on the sidewalk, music on the corner – is so different than our American way. It was after eleven o’clock by the time we made it back to the moped.

Heading back to our hotel, we crested a hill as we left the lights of Finikia and descended into darkness. With nothing but a dark hillside to our right, a cliff and the lightless ocean to our left (and not another vehicle on the road), I stopped our moped at a pullout and turned off the engine. My new wife asked what I was doing. 

“Look how dark it is,” I answered. There was no moon in the sky and we both marveled. I had never seen it so dark. We stood silently as the Mediterranean crashed onto the rocks far below. Not one ship’s lights were to be seen, and there were more stars in the sky than I could ever remembered seeing.

We stayed for a while; sitting at the edge of the pullout, safely back from the drop-off. Though we both were in awe, I was changed. I felt a part of myself I hadn’t known before. In the dark and the quiet of the night, I sensed the dark, quiet, and serene parts of my inner-self. I sought more of this feeling in my life.

Now single, I have lived off the beaten path and away from much of the stimuli of Western civilization for 18 years. I have a sweetly renovated log cabin near the end of the road that was originally built in 1880. The nearest stop light is more than thirty minutes away; the only sounds I hear are the chirps of birds, the wind rustling through the trees and the school bus driving by at 7:15am and 3:50pm. Over the years the peace and tranquility of my surroundings have changed me.

Everyday I walk, hike, ride, run or ski my dogs at least 3-4 miles into the wilderness from my front door. In the summer I backpack to treeline most every week where I’ll set up camp, watch the sun go down, get lost in the Milky Way until I fall asleep, to then awake in the morning to alpenglow. In the winter I walk my cross country skis a couple hundred yards to ungroomed trails and disappear for hours, often not returning until the stars are out. Over the years I have developed a mystical connection to nature most modern day humans have never known.


Being on the outskirts of mainstream life has been one of the most rewarding choices I have ever made. Though I miss some aspects of city life I love having mountains outside my front door more.

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