We did not evolve for 200,000 years to live at the breakneck pace that cities demand of us. We lived most of our lives moving, hunting, and gathering in the outdoors. Believe me, I’m happy to lived sheltered from monsoons, ravenous jaguars, and bitter-cold winters. But 2020 city life can overwhelm. The free-flowing internet keeps us fixed to four or more devices at a time, chiming, buzzing, glowing and hissing beyond 3AM.
We are taught to adore cities; urban wealth is the pinnacle of success. “Busy,” constantly tending to the immediate without a second to breathe, is a badge of honour. We did not evolve this way, and while the lifestyle is entertaining and convenient, city life is harmful to social primates. And this year, we are more wired than ever. Locked to our seats and elastic-waist pants, we barely know where we begin and our professional lives end.
Every sixty days or so, I reach critical mass with population density and all its rushing, blaring sirens, and fidgeting. I burrow into the homes of loved ones in more remote areas for a week or two. Having the good fortune of accommodating family members, I am able to recharge into the quietude of small towns. Relish in the ability to see nothing before me but nature.
A lifelong insomniac, I am able to sleep more than six hours only in these rural areas, even after plenty of afternoon coffee. Without CBD. No aspirational TikToker blaring his speakers at 1AM, a shrieking toddler above me and partying roommates below me, I can finally hear the world. Not urban humanity and all of its neuroses, fear, anxiety, and boisterousness. The world. The cracking of dried branches, the howls of large breed dogs with acres to roam, the rustling of crunchy autumn leaves. The sky is steely, the ground is muddy, but not in an uncaring way. It simply is. It folds and unfolds, inhales and exhales, lives without ego and dies with grace.
I go out for a walk through the trails, careful not to stray too far without bear spray. I then realize why everyone labels Canadians as some of the nicest people on Earth: no one passes without saying hello and warmly inviting me for dinner.
Canadian cities try their best to bury the stereotype of niceness. Of course, Canadians in cities and towns alike are generally more polite and less reactive. But in Vancouver, I continue to find the general disposition of every major city on Earth: uptight, rushed, materialistic, clinging to a false image, eyes darting around for anything more entertaining than the present moment.
Burrowed in the town, I feel my blood pressure steadily fall. Less to prove, less to want, less to grasp. And I gently come into contact with life’s natural effortlessness.