On Normalcy, Bravery, Divorce, And Contrast…

On Being A Frontiersman

I have often dreamed of being brave – of leaving the comfort of what I trust and what I know, to explore new frontiers.  I have never been so brave though, as to actually leap into a new frontier.  People like me may dream of such, but in this era, we are more comfortable than ever, and less likely to explore in ways which require true bravery – people like me are married to social trends.  I tend to do my exploring by way of technology, and vicariously through the bravery of others.

One area I have contemplated exploring in these modern times is to explore why I am so compelled to fit into the main stream, yet have such a strong desire to swim against that same current.  This is simply the exploration of my beliefs, values, and related choices as I strive to live a unique life within the rapid current of humanity.  A more in-depth exploration of the same, might have an effect on my many business, social, and personal relationships.  I don’t mind the idea of experimenting on myself, but I don’t wish anyone else to be effected by my lust for contrast. 

On Divorce

I know some who have divorced, struggled, and had great regret.  I know others who have divorced, felt relief, and grown wings.  Sometimes divorce is correct – it’s the right thing to do.  Other times, divorce might be an unnecessary step; too far over a ledge which does not need to be crossed.  The necessity of my own divorce remains fuzzy, and the contemplation of it remains my favorite reason to drink.

Some divorces though, are simply exquisite. These are divorces which I have truly admired and longed for.  I am aware of several divorces which have heavily influenced my day-to-day thinking, as well as my overall world-view. 

Frontier Divorces: My Heroes Have Always Been Renegades

These men; Diogenes, Dorian Paskowitz, Christopher McCandless, and Larry Walters have all divorced themselves from something far more complex, and with a much greater gravity than that of a spouse.  These innovative men, bravely and uniquely divorced themselves from the mainstream – from normal

If you are unfamiliar with who these men are, or how they divorced themselves from normal, you can click on the subsequent hyperlinks and read for yourself.  I will, however, give you a tease:

Diogenes: Divorced himself from the shelter of dishonesty, from the ideas of others, from following, and from having

Dorian Paskowitz: Divorced himself from the system, and from having

Christopher McCandless: Divorced himself from expectations, and from having

Larry Walters: Divorced himself from the planet, and from having – if only for a short while

A Few Frontiers Still Remain: My Next Ex

I want a divorce – or at least a trail separation…

I remember being 9 or 10 years old, looking around my family’s middle class home and all that went with it.  Even then I could not help but wonder why people felt the need for so much – such big houses with so many untouched things, when a simple camper or tent could suffice.  Western society’s lust for more has never made sense to me.  Still, I grew up, bought houses, and furnished them with all kinds of things because that’s what we do – at an early age, we get married to the concept of more.

Similarly, I have recently begun to wonder why people need all of this technology which surrounds us; electronics, the internet, information media, social networking, etc.  Still, I use Facebook, text, connect to NPR each morning, and I take dozens of pictures each month which will never see a darkroom.  I have not used a pen and paper to write more than 10 consecutive words in over a decade – I just push a lot of buttons when I wish to say something.  And such is the state of my marriage – my marriage to silicon, fast information, and easy entertainment.

Like the men listed above, I want a divorce from normal, or what is rapidly becoming normal.  I want to explore life without electronic devices and information; that I might live more happily, exploring this inner-frontier – at least for a while.

Trial Separation

From April 20 through May 20, I will not watch television.  I will read books rather than listen to them on my i-Pod.  I will write exclusively with a pen and paper.  I will not blog, Facebook, text or email.  I will invoice my clients by hand.  I will maintain my phone, but only for the sake and the security of my daughter, my business, and my friendships. 

Back Into The Current Of Information, Media, And Entertainment

Dorian Paskowitz has since remarried the mainstream – including a car, TV, and Facebook.  Christopher McCandless was killed during his divorce, but wrote that he had a “happy life” during his final days.  It is highly speculated he was headed back into the mainstream – at least for a while.  Diogenes may have been seduced back into normal, and a good bit of having in his later years, but there are conflicting accounts of this.  Larry Walters would commit suicide – the planet he temporarily divorced himself from was not much different on his return. 

I have no aspiration that this will be a life-long change for me.  If history and patterns are any indication, this divorce of mine might last for a while, but I will ultimately return to silicon and electronic information to fulfill my marital needs, if not my emotional ones.  I do this more as a test of my bravery, and to have a first-hand look at the inner frontier of living in a technical world, without depending on technology to amuse and inform myself.  Be well.  rc


I will not be blogging, emailing, Facebooking, or the like, between April 20th and May 20th.  Between now and then I will be an internet whore.  After my absence, I might post a column about my experience, and share with you my conclusions and ideas on the future of my marriage to technology. Or perhaps, I will just write a fitness article on the value chicken salads and lunges. 

Oh, and there is this from Paul Westerberg.  One of my favorite songs ever.  Enjoy…

21 responses

  1. Living in a real world requires bravery especially in our times of easy entertainment and easy virtual relationships.
    I wonder if our current technology is not a precursor to Star Trek’s holodeck, a place of virtual reality where one could live the life of one’s own design and not have to bother with unpredictability, and the pain of dashed hopes. Wouldn’t that be easy?

    Real world requires effort of physically having to go to a library or a bookstore, picking up a newspaper and flipping pages. Our virtual world does not like physical exertion. With one click we get the news, movies, music, gossip, and games we need.
    Real world requires that we look the people we interact with into their eyes and listen to the tone of their voices. Real world human communication forces us to feel their reactions to what we say and do. Virtual world allows us to make friends easily and discard them, sorry, I guess the proper term is ‘defriend’ them, just as easily. There is no delete button in the real world.

    I belong to the generation that still remembers, though sometimes I question even that, that on the other side of the keyboard are real people with hearts and feelings so I try to treat each virtual exchange as if I were talking to a real human being.
    Will my son’s generation remember that too? Or are we raising people who hide behind their keyboards or in their holodecks unable to face the real other?

    I strongly believe in the virtue of real effort to do things with one own’s hands, to reach out to make real connections. I still hope we will learn to use our amazing technology wisely as an enhancement of our lives as opposed to a substitute and we don’t forget what it means to be a true human being.

    I am very curious to hear your thoughts after you come back to what is the norm now. Not that I don’t care about virtue of chicken salads and lounges. 🙂

  2. I, too, am anxiously awaiting your thoughts on the disconnect…though I have divorced (literally and figuratively) a life and lifestyle, I don’t believe I could leave the silicon behind.

    I sat on the beach this morning, after my walk/jog along the Key West shoreline, texting and facebooking on my phone. Crazy? Maybe. Addicted? Yes. Was I unaware of the beauty that surrounded me because of it? Absolutely not!

    Good luck, Roy! And I am only a phone call away (or text) should you need some encouragement in your endeavor…

  3. Roy, Thanks for the bit of background and links to info on your renegade heroes..appreciated!

    I too am very interested to hear your thoughts on your “trial separation”. I’m envious..you are very brave! I hope you keep a journal.

    I also want to add that Ewa’s reply was extremely thought provoking to me today as well.

    • Thanks Julie, and I agree withyou on Ewa. I should start a blog called, Ewa’s Comments On My Blog. She’s very smart!

      I may or may not blog about my experience away from technology. I may just savor it — on the inside…

  4. Roy

    When I do this I cheat. I walk in the High Sierras where none of my electronics work, my car can’t go, and there are no convinances like Taco Bell. I try to go places where other hikers aren’t and get upset when I run across them. I actually went 5 days without knowing about September 11th, 2001 and then when I came across a group who didn’t want to tell me, but caved when I insisted, I wish I hadn’t, I was mad at myself. But when I come out of the mountains, I’m like any social addict, I’m right back at it, but deeply craving some high rocky ridge all alone, with only the wind and the sunset. What is the answer? I hope you find it.


    • Yes Bill, right back to it — until the next time you go back in. I partially wrote this post inspired by you as well. Perhpas this will be an annual journey for me too — one month per year, tech-free.

  5. We have given technology too much control and power in our lives. By giving it up for a while, I believe you will be reminded of who truly is control. Technology definitely has a place but it shouldn’t be at the the top of the list. I’m proud of you and your courage.

  6. I really, really like your thoughts on all of this. The notion of divorcing oneself from certain aspects of society is an intriguing one!

    With regards to “divorce” as we commonly speak of it, my boyfriend is a divorcee, and we talk about it and the concept of marriage frequently. For him, he believes that he and his ex married too young, and then they simply changed and grew separately rather than together. They got married because “that’s what you do”. And neither of them have looked back since their separation – as he says, it’s better to be divorced and be happy, than to be married to someone you don’t love and who you are unhappy with.

    I think the same could be applied in the type of divorce you’re talking about, too: it’s better to remove ourselves from some aspects of society if we are truly unhappy with them or if they don’t “work” for us, than to do it just because that’s what everyone else is doing.

  7. You don’t have to paint your face blue and lead a bunch of Scottish farmers into battle to be “brave.” Riding a Peewee Herman bicycle around Fallbrook is, in my book, as brave as storming the beaches of Normandy on D-Day or charging the English armed with only a sword, a “man” skirt and some blue paint on your face.

    If you really want to be brave fight Rosie O’donnell for the last cupcake at a buffet.

    I would tell you to go skydiving but…well, we all know how that turned out last time.

    Now, if you really want to step out of your comfort zone and do something that will give you a rush I have an idea. You need to first dress head to toe in red. Next, drive up to LA and walk down, or ride your Peewee bike down, the streets of Compton, CA. In case you didn’t know Compton is controlled/run by a street gang called the “Crips” who dress in all blue. The Crips hated enemies are the “Bloods,” who wear all red. So if your dressed in all red you will definitely stand out in a Crip neighborhood and you will definitely get some attention. Do this and, if you make it back alive, let us know how it went and if you found what your looking for.

    PS I have a bullet resistant vet you can borrow if you plan to head up to Compton

  8. You have inspired me yet again.

    I now have to make even more effort to ring telephones to use that type of connection and at the same time distance myself from games, facebook/twitter and the likes.

    Thank you. If no one hasn’t told you so far today, I will, “You are a Gem!” 😀

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