My life is mostly lived within a four-mile radius now. Outside of a drive up to Glens Falls for a class or a rare trip into Saratoga or Albany for special provisions, I stay put. This is what really sets my life apart, and in a lot of ways it is closer to how folks in cities live. If you live in a very urban area your world of employment, social needs, entertainment, cabs rides, and basic essentials to human life are a few blocks from your apartment. If you live on a homestead with gardens, a milk goat, and a cart horse it really isn't all that different. The details are, as are the costumes, but the idea of living around your headquarters is the same.
I think for most of suburban and rural America, this kind of lifestyle has grown out of fashion. We are constantly on the move, either for work or play. I know parents of school-aged kids who swear to me it would be impossible to park their car after work on a Friday and not drive it again until Monday morning. Too many play dates, activities, plans and events. One mother told me the only way she doesn't drive forty miles a day is if she is sick. So for some people, their homes have become bedrooms and garages.
I lived like that, too. It didn't stick. Now I go days without leaving the farm, easily a week without going farther than a trip into town. This isn't all that odd around our sort, but to most of modern America the thought of spending weeks in the same place is borderline isolationist. Which is kind of funny since the idea of a motoring society—people who jump into their car and drive for hours a week to commute, shop, eat out, or entertain themselves—are the weirdos in the course of history. It's only in the last hundred years (a blip) that such travel was normal. It's a by product of living in a world of cheap and abundant energy. Before gasoline and jet fuel, travel across the state (much less across the world!) was a rarity. I live my life close to the place that feeds me. It seems quaint and near-mythical in these times but certainly it is the most "normal" way to live in human history for middle classes. At least as far as the records state.
We're supposed to want to travel, constantly. We're being fed the same story over and over: growth and enlightenment happens when you put yourself out of your comfort zone. I agree with this, but I don't think you need a plane ticket to find your center. For some people, getting out of their comfort zone is a temple in India or on the sidelines of a Mongol horse race. For others, it's learning how to take a goat's rectal temperature. You grow when you meet your limits. And our own limits might include jet fuel or hames and harness. It's part of the neat juicy DNA that makes us all different and interesting.
And I know this, but I feel anxiety about my lack of desire for travel outside Washington County. I don't want to leave, and while I know that is perfectly okay and par for my life choices, I still can't help squirming when I read things like Eat, Pray, Love or watch some documentary on Tigers in Siberia. There is a big world outside the Shire and even Hobbits are known to go on the occasional adventure....Perhaps in the future I will crave and desire speaking Gaelic to a man on the Isle of Skye or load up a backpack for a trek across mountains of Korea. Tonight I just want to sit by the fire and plan tomorrow's pig harvest. My adventures are right outside my own front door these days. Why am I being told it's not enough?
My triangle of experience may be less glamorous than Miss Gilbert's, But I think both me and Liz learn about life by seeking spirit and adventure. Her's involved Italian food, Ashrams, and Bali. Mine involves homemade bread, stone circles, and a mountain farm. They both sound like Eat, Pray, Love to me.