“If this were so; if the desert were 'home'; if our instincts were forged in the desert; to survive the rigours of the desert - then it is easier to understand why greener pastures pall on us; why possessions exhaust us, and why Pascal's imaginary man found his comfortable lodgings a prison.” ― Bruce Chatwin, The Songlines
You may already be familiar with the rubric to this post. Apparently, it's one of the Amish's commandments -- see the post "Approach Technology Like the Amish" written by Cal Newport -- but it's also to be found partly in John 17:1-26.
Leaving to one side the religious connotations, what does it mean to you?
On first blush, it could be read as forging deeper links with our individualistic purview of the world. On the other hand, it could mean us living closer to nature. Or, it could mean that you're one with everything even though it appears you're living a normal life. (I'm always reminded of the Osho saying: "Be -- drop becoming". For me that's the highest expression of our existence.)
Reading Cal Newport's post, I think what he's getting at is that very rarely do we question our need to assume or be subsumed by the latest technology fad, which, as his book "Deep Work" makes clear, simply removes us psychologically from doing our best work.
I know that I'm of the world and part of it. I'd rather it wasn't like that but I'm reliant upon utility providers, financial institutions, my employer and a plethora of social support systems for my care. As to the technology piece, I'm not big into gadgets but I know I've got way more stuff than I need.
Moving things on, does this mean, as my wife thinks I mean (with my 'maintaining the status quo' spiel), we need revert to our indigenous roots? Yes, of course. How else will we connect with something deeper, more meaningful than a place where we have to live off the land and rely on our instincts for survival.
I mean, just because we adopt a more primitive way of living doesn't mean we're any less likely to self actualise.
Think of Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs. I'm sure that most people think that if you're living off the land etc. you're less likely to live in the rarified regions at the top. But actually, I think it's the complete opposite. Think of your most basic life experience. Would you say that it moved you closer to the real you or further away?
In case you think I'm advocating for a life of lack I'm not. But then again, what really is lack? Perhaps it's me but I've known lots of people in my life who are not lacking anything in the material realm but spiritually they're dead. And I mean very, very dead.
I suppose in putting it out there what it looks and feels like to "be of the world, but not in it" all I'm really doing is looking for an answer to my own question as to how I can live more holistically whilst still living within a world that's moving ever faster in the opposite direction.