Wednesday, July 1, 2015

July 1, 2015 - Pioneers

I must be a reincarnated pioneer.  Every time I see a lonely patch of acreage or one of Maine’s many small uninhabited islands, I get such an urge to just strike out, explore, and start a new life.  It must be the wanderlust in me; it never dies.  I find myself calculating exactly how much it would take to seriously become a modern pioneer.

Invariably, I find myself eventually conceding to the idea of bringing others along.  Starting a whole new civilization can’t be done by one person.  When I was younger, I never would have admitted to that.  “I can do it all on my own,” I’d say, bursting with false pride.  But now that I’m older, I know that at best it’s foolhardy to say such a thing and at worst it’s life-threatening.  People really do need people.  We need someone to hunt when we’re sick.  We need someone to plant when we’re hunting.  We need someone to tend a fire when we’re ice fishing.  We really need each other.

Land of the free.

Many people live alone these days.  They wake up alone.  They travel to work alone.  They work alone in an isolated cubicle.  They travel back to their house alone.  They eat their dinner alone.  They go to sleep alone.  I lived in a city once a long time ago.  It can be a very lonely existence, even with millions of people around you.  It’s easy to start thinking you don’t need anyone since you’ve been doing it all alone for so long.  But that’s not really true.  There are a lot of people involved in our aloneness.  There are bankers who handle our money (or perhaps mishandle it), train and bus drives who bring us to and fro, maintenance people who care for the buildings we work in, and people who prepare our food, no matter how raw the ingredients, etc.  No, we cannot make it without other people.

But back to being a pioneer.  By definition, a pioneer is someone who is first or among the first to explore and settle a new territory.  We might not have too much luck finding new territories to explore everywhere, although Maine still has a lot of “unorganized territory” (areas without local municipal governments) that makes up just over half of the state, believe it or not.  So while we might not be able to strike out in the same manner in which our forbears did in centuries gone by, we can still strike out and “settle” an area.  This is why you’ll certainly need other people.

Imagine “settling” a new place, maybe even turning it into a little town.  You’d still be in the U.S., of course, subject to U.S. law and U.S. taxes.  But beyond that, just imagine . . .  Your group could start out small and grow slowly, adding the people and the ideas you want to it over time.  Everyone would work hard, but you would be working for one another.  I’m not talking about living as a caveman because there is nothing wrong with modern conveniences.  However, as time went by, you would figure out ways to need less and less from “civilization.”  You would find ways to grow what you need, forage for it, hunt, fish, and build homes.  Slowly, you could become more and more independent.

It’s not as farfetched as it might at first sound.  There are established groups all around the world who have done this very thing, from the Amish to the Bruderhof and everything in between.  It can be done.  It takes commitment.  It takes team effort and trust.  It takes time and patience and lots of hope.  Above all, it takes a pioneering spirit.

I’m a pioneer, always exploring new territory whenever I can, finding the secrets of Maine.  When I look out at a small uninhabited island, when I look at abandoned wooded acreage, the itch to strike out seizes me.  Perhaps I am a hopeless romantic, but it’s in my blood.  I think there are a lot of covert pioneers out there just waiting for the signal . . .

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