Civilization = Cancer?

It’s Sunday – it’s been so cloudy and gloomy this past week, it almost feels like winter already. In any case, I hope I’ll manage to help you find calm, a bit.

🤔 What I’ve been thinking about

Looking at pictures from my recent Norway trip, I recalled how good it felt to be in nature.

Yes, it was rainy and windy, and waking up in a tiny, humid tent can be unpleasant (and this was summer so I don’t even want to imagine how winters would be like). But it felt right to be in nature, somehow.

Hiking through the wilderness, I felt less neurotic, less angry, less “stuck in my head”. I wasn’t thinking about projects, deadlines, my life going nowhere or some grand political issues and all that stuff that tends to occupy my mind. Sure, there was some grogginess and “I don’t want to do this, it’s uncomfortable” in me, especially at the beginning of a steep hike. But this negativity would dissipate once my muscles started aching. There was only one goal, one thing to think about: Get on that mountain, reach the top. Or find a dry place to sleep.

But yeah, sure, I can see the objections: It’s easy to be happy when you’re on vacation. And you wouldn’t want to really live in nature all the time. And I don’t disagree.

I remembered a video by one of my favorite ASMR creators, Ephemeral Rift, with the somewhat edgy title: We Belong in Nature (Civilization is Cancer). He’s convinced that we should live a “primitive life” in nature, similar to hunter gatherers. But he admits, and he seems quite resentful about it, that we aren’t prepared and skilled enough to live like that.

Maybe this “primitive life” really is how we’re meant to live. I recalled David Choe on Joe Rogan who lived with the Hadza People of Tanzania and went hunting with them. It was remarkable to hear how much more skilled and physically robust these people are compared to us “civilized people”. Also, according to David, they crack jokes all the time and there’s no such thing as depression or suicide.

But let’s be real here: Nature is deadly, nature is incredibly tough. We’re too fragile as humans, or maybe we’ve become too fragile. The cold kills us. Heat kills us. Dryness kills us, and too much humidity sucks as well. “Natural” fungi and bacteria kill us. Mosquitoes kill us, predators kill us. If we hadn’t wiped out most of them, we couldn’t just take a walk in a forest or camp in nature – we’d get eaten. It’s naive to claim “we should abolish all of civilization and all jobs and live in peaceful communities in nature!”

I actually like civilization and all the comfort that comes with it. I like my heater and my cozy apartment, I like having a fridge with food in it and my computer and my smartphone with internet. And there are people I know who definitely prefer to live in large cities, they say they don’t need nature.

But there’s no doubt to me that the way we live nowadays is weird, and it’s against our nature in some way; I don’t need doctors and studies to prove that, I just need to observe myself: If I’m sitting in a small room in front of a screen all day, thinking, typing, brooding, I’ll get twitchy, moody, tired and tense after a few hours, and I’ll probably end up eating candy and drinking soda to cope – it’s not good, it feels like Rilke’s panther trapped in a cage.  

I want more nature in my life, it’s as simple as that.
Preferably real nature, not the small city park where everything is plastered with concrete and those grey housing blocks which hide the sun.

I know it’s not that easy, we can’t just move into the wilderness like Walden and build our own house somewhere. But maybe there’s a way. Maybe it’s just taking weekend trips to get your fix of real nature. But in those last months with COVID, many people have realized two things: a) Our jobs can be done remotely, to a large extent, and b) cities aren’t that great, especially if all public life is shut down.

This is evidenced by people moving out of megacities like New York or LA en masse, right now. If we don’t have to, why would we want to live in a dirty, crowded city in a grotesquely overpriced mini-apartment with unfriendly, anonymous people and terrible traffic everywhere? And how often do we really go to these museums, music concerts and fancy restaurants? I don’t even want to bash cities, I like them and I understand that they’re good for careers, culture and many other things.

But I would just invite you to ask yourself: How and where do you really want to live, in the long term?
Everyone is unique in how much nature they need – but there’s a good chance that moreof nature and more moving your body outside would be good for your happiness and health.

As for me, I’d love to live in a small, cozy remote house near a lake or the sea, with a forest nearby, kind of like the family we visited in Norway (check out the image and the videos linked below, you’ll see what I mean). This is how most people in Norway live, outside of the few larger cities, and I envy them.

😴 What might help you find calm

⛰️ My Norway ASMR VLOGs (Part 1)

I recorded some videos in Norway – I’m not that great at Vlogging and I had to improvise with minimal video and audio equipment, but you might still enjoy these (it’s probably more unintentional ASMR, if anything).

Intentional ASMR Picks:

  • This week’s favorite of mine is Moonlight Cottage’s Steampunk Optometrist eye exam – the props and attention to detail are top notch
  • In Zeitgeist’s newest video, it looks like his mics really are underwater, not sure how he pulled it off, but the sounds are unique for sure (made me think of lying in a bathtub)
  • I know I’ve had her on last week’s “hidden gem” pick, but Starling’s new Russian Barber roleplay is too good to leave out
  • I enjoyed Peace and Saraity’s 80s style makeup roleplay (even though I’m not sure what AVON means)
  • Here’s a nice (real) Reiki style arm and leg massage video by SemideCoco (which frankly I didn’t know before). Tons of nice triggers in there!

Unintentional ASMR Picks: