Monday, October 3, 2016

Country air, sustainability, and the end of the world

I'm a city boy, born and raised. I've always loved the city, and the bigger the better. The first time I was old enough and had enough money to travel (age 24), I did as so many do: I went to the big cities of Western Europe. Then I started to see the big cities of the USA, Asia, and Latin America. I've been to a few dozen major metropolises now.

I bought a home and moved to Hong Kong in 2008, taking advantage of residency opportunities there. I loved living in central Hong Kong, despite the constant noise and air pollution. When visiting Vancouver, I strongly prefer to stay downtown despite higher rents and less space. Not only is my gym there, I think it's really the best part of Vancouver. Tremendously walkable. All the amenities you could ask for. And yes, insanely expensive, but you can see why.

But in the last year or so, I've been yearning for a simpler and greener lifestyle. I've never lived in the country, or even spent more than a few days there. I don't know how I would enjoy it. But lately I have been fantasizing about acres of sprawling farmland, chickens, goats, vegetables, clean water, and country air. And my antisocial side likes the idea too.

My main issue with getting away from it all was that I always wanted to live near my social network. I've managed to meet in person so many wonderful people through poker travels that unfortunately all live in disparate places. Living in a big city in my 20s meant seeing them frequently; either because we would plan a trip together, or they would invariably have some reason to visit where I was staying.

But more and more, my friends are having kids and travelling less because of them. I've seen time and again that having kids basically ends your social life, or at least cuts it drastically. I will have my own kids one day, and I know that I will be no different. It's understandable - life revolves around the kids, as it should.

So if it's going to be inconvenient to see my friends, I might as well live an idyllic and peaceful lifestyle. I do not want to move to the dreaded suburbs. To me, the suburbs are the worst of both. Nothing is that convenient and driving 20-60 minutes is a requirement for anything. You still have to deal with traffic, HOAs, government influence, people in general. Property is cheaper, but still significantNo, I think I would rather live hours from civilization than live in the suburbs.

I think there's a non-zero chance of the apocalypse in some form or another (World War 3, pandemic, major terrorist attack, hyperinflation/depression, global water shortage, sentient murderous robots, EMP, take your pick). I'm not quite at the stage where I have a guns and ammo and years worth of military rations buried in an underground safe, but I'm also not sure that's a terrible idea.

But beyond just end-of-the-world visions, I have also been thinking about permaculture and sustainability. The current agriculture system sucks. People demonize raising meat for food, when what we should be demonizing is monocropping and soil degradation. I'm thinking of a place where I've got some solar panels and gas to back it up. A bunch of animals eating grass and pooping out fertilizer for vegetables. I don't need to create a food surplus, just enough for me and mine to enjoy. Not bothering to read labels on the grocery store, because we know there isn't hidden cancer in the food, because we grew it.

My problem? I don't know how to do any of this. I don't know how to grow vegetables, and I've never handled animals. I can't build anything, and I know nothing about wiring or plumbing. I am the average useless city boy who's a child of the 90s -- glued to his computer since his teenage years. I know nothing about this life.

But I also once knew nothing about poker. I once knew nothing about fighting. Maybe I'll figure this one out too.

And friends -- you're invited to stay on the farm. Hell, if I've got the space, maybe you can have your own acre.