The Great Indoors

According to a recent Pew Research Poll, the average American spends only 72 minutes outdoors a day.  It is a stunning factoid when you consider two things: there are 1440 minutes in a day, and for the average suburban New Yorker, at lest 30 of that 72 is pissed away waiting for the train at 7:30 am.  The rest of those precious seconds are spent behind environmentally unfriendly drywall and under asbestos ceilings.

A more intriguing fact is that only 2 percent of the United States is paved.  It feels like 80 percent of New York is black asphalt, and without the foresight of Fredrick Olmsted, it would be.  He designed the only oasis one can escape to on the island of Manhattan: Central Park.  Where else can you throw a frisbee, smoke blunts, meet cute European backpackers and exaggerate about your success for a date later that very evening.

What’s tough to swallow is the following deduction: most Americans spend roughly 1368 minutes a day indoors, in approximately 2 percent of the country (buildings and roads going hand in hand).

What’s worse still is that of the rest of the country that isn’t paved, only 2 percent is protected as wilderness.  To my knowledge, nothing that’s paved is protected, because if it were, Disney would not have bought 42nd street and turned it into a mall of shit made in China.

To continue the statistical trip, it’s been said that 75 percent of Americans use billboards as their primary source of information.  Don’t ask me my source on that, but it’s been said.

I think a drive though Kansas and you’ll get a better idea of what this information consist of, but for a small hint, open a page of the new testament, stab a paragraph, and read it as if it were written in capital letters.

Guestimate: in a country of 300,000 million, at least a third of us are reliably stupid.

Finally, I read that the average number of people murdered in US offices each week is 20, bringing us right back to our first statistic: people spend too much time indoors.

One must conclude that if we spent less time in cubicles, and more time naked in a lake, for example, we would most likely be alive a lot longer.

There’s a temptation among the enlightened.  The one where you throw caution to the wind, move your life off the grid and read Ayn Rand again.  Google Earth the island of Manhattan, and you can’t believe the true “grid” it is.  Without the Park, the layouts looks like graph paper.

There’s an intellectual allure to attempting a zero carbon footprint life. Undiluted freedom: existence sans mortgages and news cycles.  Hand made fires to cook on and heirloom tomatoes you’ve grown from seeds.

The obstacles to dropping out would seem titanic at first.  At this stage, how is anyone supposed to live without detergent or shampoo?  Without succumbing?

The biggest adjustment would be what to do with the time.  You could transvalue all values, as Nietzsche did when he dropped out.  Or you may just want to read and garden and raise chickens.

Either way, you’re concerns become a lot more basic.  Once you’re living off the grid, and the sun goes down, power is limited to what you were able to store.

Without power tools, for example, 3 hours of work becomes 12.  Laundry is back to hand scrubbing every sock.  Can we somehow make it into a ritual, instead of a routine?  Could the joy comes from from the time it takes?  Could the longer the better?

Does the transition seem seismic?  It always does when you’re entrenched.  But imagine the plus side of living free from it all.  A drastic drop the cost of living for starters: it’s cheaper to conserve than produce.

How would we get their as a nation, one wonders?

I say we elect an Amish minister President of the United States.


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