By Jim Park
We boarded the BC Ferry Salish Heron and sailed to our vacation cottage on Pender Island; it was where my wife’s parents had lived for decades. It is surrounded by forest and a meadow that encircles the house and leads to the outbuildings; families of deer visit almost daily and pileated woodpeckers drop in for some choice bugs once in a while. We love going over there because life is simpler and much quieter than city life. After my wife’s mother passed away, we enjoyed and maintained the cottage for many wonderful years until recent circumstances have forced us to pack up all the belongings and sell the property; it is currently on the market.
My wife and I decided years ago that we didn’t want to buy in to the cellphone craze; as such, we are in a minority that do not own mobile devices of any type. I have an old desktop computer at home and my wife has a laptop, neither of which we brought with us. The cottage
lacks cable TV, Internet, or outside connections of any kind, except for one exception – the landline telephone with answering machine, a relic from the last century. Except when we were conducting business, the phone seldom rang. It was a blessing!
Adjustments were required on both sides of all our commercial partnerships in order to conduct our business using old technology. It didn’t start out well. We’d talk to each other on the phone and come to an agreement on the job to be done, but all the emails and business documentation were texted to us or sent to our computers in Vancouver! Most company representatives were quite accommodating and helpful once we explained our limitations,
although we continue to meet people from time to time who are shocked that we are able to exist in society without a mobile device, or have any knowledge of texting! Despite these handicaps, we completed all the arrangements, had the necessary work done, got the house packed up, and put the property on the market.
Our realtor has been very generous with her time and has patiently walked us through all the considerations when selling property in BC. She is also the realtor for my wife’s sister who owns the property next door and, being undeveloped, has always served as an extension to our own forest as well as a buffer to the next neighbour’s land. Her property is now completely covered
in tall, dense and vicious blackberry bushes. We mentioned this to our realtor one morning, and a short time later, she arrived at the sister’s property completely enclosed in safety gear and
carrying a powerful industrial-strength weed eater. She literally slashed her way through 80 feet of dense blackberry thickets like a knight swinging a sword until she reached the property
line. Prospective buyers can now follow the path through the property from one end to the other, admiring the wild environment in the process.
As we were packing up, we decided that there were a number of pieces of furniture that we couldn’t use. I made two copies of a handwritten notice of the furniture items we wanted to
get rid of and that they were free to whomever wanted them, and our contact phone number was noted in big print. They were posted on two bulletin boards, one at each end of the north
island in the shopping area; after one week, the only piece of furniture to go was a couch that was given to an old fellow who had read the number on the bulletin board notice; otherwise,
the phone didn’t ring. Our realtor came over, took pictures of all the furniture items, and posted them on the Pender Marketplace website, and within two weeks everything was gone. Physical bulletin boards in busy areas don’t attract people anymore; digital marketplaces do. Pen and paper have given way to clicks on a keyboard. Consumer behaviour is changing significantly as individuals spend more time in their homes with everything they need delivered to them. Posting a picture and a short description of the item or service is all that’s needed to start the wheels of business transactions moving. Interacting with business entities of any type is becoming increasingly difficult in our technological society without the tools that a smartphone provides. We are living in a more frenetic time centred around technology of one form or another. We use and enjoy the myriad apps available, and, through social media and videoconferencing, connect with people living all over the world. It has the potential to bring the world together to address global issues and rediscover the joy that cooperation brings, or it will allow each of us to build silos of isolation from each other, creating and living in fantasy worlds, and letting nature take its course.
Spending two months on an island without technology and surrounded by nature was a relaxing, healing experience; we highly recommend it! Peace and quiet surrounded us all the
time except for the variety of trills sung by songbirds, the raven’s mighty croak, and the rat-a-tat-tat of woodpeckers. The background hum of insects calmed our nerves and quieted our
minds. We lived simply and harmoniously in tune with Nature’s rhythms, accomplished our objectives, and tried to live in the moment. The house was packed up and all our possessions
relocated in a methodical and unrushed way.
There may come a day when we have no choice but to have a smartphone in order to conduct our personal business, but that day is not yet here. We still enjoy the analog world we live in
much of the time, and plan on keeping it that way as long as we can. We can live an enriched life in this day and age without a technological environment, but do we want to? Society at
many levels is shaping our attitudes and behaviours to align with technological growth and evolution. There is a growing feeling of being left out, of missing the boat. People look at you in
shock and confusion if you tell them that you don’t have a cell phone; a very few people congratulate you on resisting the trend, and say “I wish I could!” As we sailed back to Tsawwassen, we were grateful to have been able to spend over thirty years in a place that heals us, recharges our energies, and helps keep us in the present.
Thank-you, Mother Nature, for sharing your world with us; together, we have created beautiful
memories that will be fondly remembered for the rest of our lives.