A Hierarchy of Owls: My Escape Story as Published in the New Escapologist Magazine!

owls-magazine-coverIt has been just over a year now since we escaped city life and graduated to country living. Our cost to survive is now well less than half what it was. We breath fresh air. We enjoy a beautiful view of the sun every night as it sets behind the mountains opposite the water from where we live. We usually enjoy a cocktail as we watch it.

We have time to learn so many new things now: how to write a blog, how to build a mobile video game, how to create an online store, how to invest money, how to build a deck. Soon, how to self-publish a book, and how to renovate a bathroom.

With country living comes community. We have neighbours we know. Friends that live nearby. They come feed our cats when we go away. We walk their dogs when they go away. We enjoy fires on the beach together. We drink homemade beer at their house. And then we spend three minutes walking home.

We no longer lock our doors.

Sometimes we have to work still because we do have a few bills left to pay. But I can easily see that those days are numbered.

I started this blog when we made the big move out here. I wanted lots of people to read it. I still do. Not because I like to brag, like I am doing right now. But because I hope the odd person might read it and then make the same move for themselves. Because anyone is easily capable of doing the same thing.

Why do I care what other people do? Who knows. But based on all the shitty tabloids I see at the supermarket, I have to assume it is human nature.

Part of popularizing a blog is finding other, like-minded people out there to form a bond with. A secondary level of community, I suppose. And one such member is a publication out of the UK called the New Escapologist.

The New Escapologist has been around a number of years now and regularly publishes stories from many of the heavy hitters in this secondary community I speak of. For example, this new issue also contains a story by the guy who writes Raptitude.

I contacted the New Escapologist last fall asking if I could write a story for them, telling them who I was. Bless their hearts, they said I could, and didn’t even try to change it one bit when I sent it to them!

Without further adieu, here is my story. But do check out their website, and maybe even buy one of their issues. Maybe the latest one. So you have a hard copy of my first official publication :)


A Hierarchy of Owls

When it comes to making decisions, I have always been a person of logic. If ever I wasn’t able to use logic to make a decision, perhaps because I didn’t have enough information or felt too emotional about the choice, every effort would be made to delay the decision until a time when logic could be used.

This way of thinking appears to me to be quite contrary to the vast majority of the population who spend the best years of their lives unhappily working at meaningless jobs, and wasting their earning potential on meaningless toys. All because we live in a society that requires this type of lifestyle and consumption in order to keep functioning. To my way of thinking, spending your life doing something you don’t enjoy in order to keep up with everyone around you is downright illogical. As a result I find myself politely going against the grain more often than not, not necessarily on a social level, but undeniably with the bigger decisions I make.

My Wise Old Owl

I can recall having a newspaper clipping in my room as a young boy (I think my dad had cut it out and given it to me) describing ten ways to be a better person. Number one on the list sticks with me to this day: Be like the Wise Old Owl. In case you are unfamiliar with the rhyme of the Wise Old Owl, it goes like this:

The Wise Old Owl sat in an oak,
The more he saw, the less he spoke;
The less he spoke, the more he heard;
Why can’t we all be like that wise old bird!

Unbeknownst to me at the time of course, but pretty clear to me now, the Wise Old Owl is very much a bird of logic: likely hypothesizing, perpetually observing, and undoubtably deducing. As I later learned, those are the fundamental, logical steps of the Scientific Method, and so it now makes sense why nĂºmero uno in the top ten list has always stuck with me.

My life, it seems, is a sort of multi-tiered science lab run by a hierarchy of owls. I have my Barred Owl on the lab floor making the daily decisions – how about I save three bucks and make a free coffee when I get to work instead of stopping to buy one en route, and why don’t I run home from the office instead of driving to the gym and running less effectively on the spot. Then there is my Spotted Owl in the lab office making all the mid-level decisions – do I need the latest iProduct to be as cool as my friends, does it make sense to be spending $800/month on a brand new, fuel-saving truck when a used one will save more money in the end. And then of course there’s my Wise Old Owl perched on the catwalk above the lab overseeing the operation (he’s a Great Horned Owl in case you’re wondering) – what is my ultimate goal? Am I happy? Is it possible there is no purpose to any of this at all?? That sort of stuff. As he should be, the Wise Old Owl has always been the dominant bird in my lab’s flock.

I suspect my Wise Old Owl made his grand hypothesis sometime back around the time of the newspaper clipping, and spent the next two and a half decades quietly observing. I can recall a number of experiments he must have been undertaking: the serious questioning of my university degree after a semester-long break in Asia, a one year hiatus across Africa where I spent my thirtieth birthday, and then the early-mid-life discovery that there are a great number of people out there actually living the life that I’ve always felt I should be living.

He then came to his great deduction: it was time to start living that life. ‘Big changes, spring 2013’ would become my chorus around the spring of 2012, which gave me one year to analyze and figure out how to mobilize.

And so it would be: I quit my job at the end of January, 2013, and spent the next month packing up our city home, and moving to our country home. It’s been a year since my escape, and I haven’t spent a day looking back with regret. I have no idea what hypothesis the Great Owl is working on now. Perhaps he’s just taking a much-needed rest after the conclusion of a near-lifelong experiment. Time will tell.

The Fear of Change

Deep down I always knew the only logical choice was to leave most of what I had behind, and move on to what I knew was right. It’s a shame that it took me so long to actually make the change, but at least I still have half my life ahead of me. It really is never too late!

It seems the fear of change, an illogical, but common phobia, can be blamed for the delay; funnily enough I’ve always considered myself one to embrace change, but I guess sometimes even I have a hard time listening to what my owls are telling me.

I don’t think it is a question of whether or not other people have their own flock of owls working for them, I’m quite positive everyone does. It’s more a question of whether people are listening to what their owls are trying to tell them. I truly believe that if more people were heeding the words of their Wise Old Owls, we would see a lot more Escapists out there, flying free from the shackles of society!

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