Endeavors of Existence

by Edward Le Prieur


forested hills near my home

Lately as the weather has been rather agreeable I’ve been taking more and more time to get outdoors. I’ve been exploring the forests and hills around my home, going off the trails that I’ve walked since I was small. Virtually every stone, root and bend in the paths near my home is known to me so it’s only logical to explore the places I’ve never been. There isn’t a peace that is felt for me like being in the midst of a sea of forest. In it I’ve discovered beauty that I did not know imaginable and right under my nose just simply off the well worn path.

Every time I go into the forest I feel a little closer to what our ancestors might have experienced. Most people rarely have time to do much anymore considering the long hours most people are required to work simply to gain any quality of life. It’s virtually impossible to eat well with the costs of good food. Even then when people do have free time they would prefer to go to a cinema or go to a restaurant and spend more of that money to eat overpriced food. Seldom do people go into the wilderness as they fear discomfort more than anything. They too have been misled by the ideas about what work exactly is in our society of apathy.

Yet here I stand amidst the sea of trees wearing clothing that was manufactured in a country that I’ve never seen. Synthetic fabrics drawn from the depths of the earth and chartered across the oceans on massive ships that propelled waste into the oceans that will never decay, but what choice do I have. What choice does anyone have in such circumstances? Can we ever return to a semblance of unity of the world, or are we to forever wander in dissonance?

stone slab forms a natural altar

It’s a modern misconception that life for our ancestors was absurdly difficult and all time was spent in toil. In fact it’s quite the opposite. They were excellent hunters and to provide for a small group was not difficult at all. Perhaps at the most they would have to ‘work’ for 15-20 hours a week. Some researchers would say that this is a generously low estimate, but I would say that things that we look upon as work were just simple things in life for ancient man. Things such as preparing skins, collecting firewood or gathering food and cooking over fire. These things were normal for ancient man they weren’t work, it was part of life. It’s as if we said going to pick up groceries at a shop is work it’s exactly as absurd as it sounds.

How then if man spent his whole existence in torment, slaving away to eat and to keep from the elements. How then did he find the time to create beautiful works of art, create tools from flint, carve beautiful figures or to make instruments from the bones of animals. If we had been raised in the same environment where everything was made by hand, from the earth. Would we consider every aspect of our day as work? Of course not, just because an activity consists of more than the primarily sedentary state modern humans find themselves in. Does this mean that moving or doing any kind of activity outside of our work lower our quality of life significantly?

This modern life is driving us to stagnation, not the past. We work long hours and gain nothing except money, which objectively compared to life is of little significance. The time we have to live grows smaller with each day and more and more we’re groomed to live to work, and not the opposite. Our ancestors worked and lived more freely than our own selves, for them there was no hard line betwixt work and life. perhaps I’m just dreaming. If I believe we can ever come close to the world that once was, others have dreamed more impossible ambitions. Surrendering would be a much more grievous transgression.