Friday, November 02, 2018

The Collapse VIII: Small Town Living

18 June 20XX

My Dear Lucilius:

I received your package in the mail last week. I do so love receiving the prayer intention cards from your parish. I have quite a collection of them now – how long have you been sending them, 20 years? Sometimes I find the best pictures on them or an unusual historical fact I had not known. And yes, no-one is more surprised than I that the Postal Service continues to function given what seems to be the general degradation of social services in general.

You had asked me about living in a very small community in the current circumstances, so I thought I would indulge you.

The “town” I live in had a perhaps a population of 120 prior to the ongoing economic difficulties, split largely (it seemed) between retirees and people who are/were employed in the surrounding communities. I suspect this number has dropped somewhat, as the jobs related to tourism have all but disappeared (in an unstable environment, tourism is the last thing on people's minds, it seems). The town does have a small school building (not the one room school of yore but certainly a one building school), which may truly be the reason that it continues to exist as an entity. I believe I have referenced before that the industry of the town is a post office/gas station, a bar/RV park, and another RV Park. The RV parks appear to have more RVs than what I would expect given everything – I suspect it is due to people staying in one place rather than moving on.

For myself, I live at the end of a small country lane at the northern edge of town with neighbors at the end (to whom I wave as they head off to or come home) and a plot of land between us bearing the foundational remains of a manufactured house which was there in my youth but was hauled away long years ago. Neither party at this point knows who owns the land nor have owners contacted either of us. It creates a convenient fence between us.

As a late comer to the town of Birch – certainly not since things started to turn sideways but neither as a long time resident – I occupy a rather unusual position of almost being a “regular” but not quite so, the sort of person that if there were a coffee shop with old men drinking coffee I would be acknowledged by nods but not by name. I know a number of people by face but am seldom talked to more than a simple greeting. The neighbors have stopped as they are driving out or in and we have talked through the truck window, but that is as far as it has gone.

Which, as you can imagine, is fine by me. I have had my fill of social living before I moved – yes, the good things that come from greater interaction but the equally undesirable bad things of the veneer of character and falsity of actions versus words and just the constant need to “be involved”. I have my church visits upon occasion to fill the need for interaction – beyond that, it is a great deal of silence and thoughts and talking to the rabbits about the state of the world (and correspondences like this, of course).

Self sufficiency is not just found in the area of provision of food and shelter, it seems. It also exists in the ability of one to manage one's social interactions and needs largely by one's self. This was an unanticipated outcome of my relocation, but has become one of the most noticeable aspects.

Your Obedient Servant, Seneca


  1. Very interesting addition. Enjoyable. :)

  2. Yes, very interesting. I found the last paragraph to be especially though-provoking. When we homeschooled I was often confronted with "but what about socialization?" But there is something to be said for learning how to be by oneself and still manage life with contentment. Perhaps another lost social skill?

  3. Thank you Linda! I am finding this an engaging thought exercise. As you might guess, the location is loosely based on somewhere I have been and the style of life based on things I have considered. I am merely trying to run them out to their logical conclusion.

  4. I understand. Perhaps in all this, you will decide a "road to travel", or revisit. :)

  5. Thank you Leigh!

    Yes, the last paragraph is something I have been working on in my own thinking as well. If I really stop and think about it, society and culture have made it to where we are all passive consumers of entertainment - the proverbial wail of "There is nothing to do" when surrounded by a great many things which could be done but are not because they require active involvement of the self. It is definitely a lost social skill and one I am working on myself - it is too easy to just flop down and watch a streaming video or scroll on a computer (or play a computer game I suppose, although I do not do that at all anymore). To be able to entertain one's self in a productive way without any help from anyone else is, I would argue, very much a lost skill.


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