It's a theme we're all familiar with: being overworked, never having enough time for yourself or your family, always rushing to meet deadlines, stressing over one thing or another…
We can blame much of our 'living-in-the-fast-lane' lifestyle to the progress of our technology; Emails and cell phones make for faster and more convenient communication, each new car model can go faster than the last, computers help us get our job done faster, and we can even eat faster with fast food. Everything's getting done faster, and yet, we never have enough time for ourselves. Although technology is convenient, sometimes we just want to get away from it all.
Logan Ward did just that. His book See You in a Hundred Years: Four Seasons in Forgotten America is the true story about the time Logan, his wife, and his son left technology behind. They left their city lives and bought land in a southern farm country, planning to live a whole year without any modern technology. To be more precise, they were going to live in 1900, and anything not invented by 1900, they would not use.
That meant no telephones, no computers, no cars, and no fast food. This wouldn’t be too bad, except that living in 1900 also meant no electric stove, no indoor plumbing, and no (gasp!) indoor toilet.
That's right, the Wards cut off their electricity and their plumbing, and had a manual well-pump installed and an outhouse built in their yard. They also bought a horse and wagon for transportation, two goats for their milk, and some hens for eggs. They grew their food from scratch, and cooked them over a wood stove, or preserved and canned them for the winter. It was a major 'roughing-it-out' adventure, and I admire that they learned so much from this experience.
How many of us know how to milk a goat? How many of us have even seen a real live goat anyway? How many of us can grow our own food, or drive a horse and a wagon? How many of us can make a fruitcake from scratch? Or a full-spread Thanksgiving dinner over a wood stove? Not many of us, I'd wager, probably because these skills aren't essential to our survival in the modern world, but it was essential to the Wards' survival in their 1900 world. These aren't the most valuable lessons the Wards learned, though.
They learned that a homemade Christmas gift made out of horsehair was more valuable than an expensive gift bought hurriedly from the nearest department store, that the spirit of community and friendship built through helping one another is worth more than a million forwarded emails, and most importantly, they learned that it really isn't about where you live, or even when you live. It's about how you live.
Logan is an extremely brilliant writer who draws you into his world easily with his open and engaging writing style. His account of his family's adventure has touched me in many ways, and I feel I have learned so much from him just by reading about his experience. See You in a Hundred Years has become a top ten favorite book of mine, and I plan to acquire more copies to give as gifts to my friends and family. I am sure they will love it as much as I do.