Over the weekend I had a flurry of emails from John Kinsella and Melanie Challenger who are both racing ahead with the Dialogue between the body and the soul series of poems.
Not only are both of them being kind enough to share a great deal of knowledge about the historical background to this ancient â€œsoul and bodyâ€ tradition of poetry which goes back to the 10th century, Iâ€™m also learning about both of their aims for the piece. As a footnote to the work in progress, theyâ€™ve shared some of the emails they exchanged last year which discussed the idea of giving up flying. John, who is 100% committed not to flying except in emergencies, had said he wanted to press on with these poems as heâ€™s planning on going fully off grid at the end of the summer.
Melanieâ€™s off-grid too, living on a boat in East Anglia. In a kind of environmental keeping-up-with-the-Joneses, I ventured that I was editing Melanieâ€™s latest contribution off-grid too. An attempt to impress, obviously. I do have a small shack in Devon; I harvest my own rainwater, heat it with a woodburner and have a photo-voltaic panel which powers a notebook and phone. And over the bank holiday weekend I was working from there.
I think Iâ€™ve given John Kinsella the impression Iâ€™m â€œone of themâ€. Now I feel like a fraud. Iâ€™m not sure though that I could ever be bold enough to go the whole hog. I spent a month down there last year. For a couple of weeks I was off-grid with three kids who, Iâ€™m proud to say, thoroughly enjoyed the situation. My excuse for not cutting the ties is Iâ€™m not convinced that itâ€™s the answer in this crowded island though. I love being off grid, and Iâ€™m full of admiration for anyone who achieves it – plusÂ I think itâ€™s a great way to learn about how profligate we are in our day-to-day on-grid lives, but I think we also need more collective solutions.
Or maybe Iâ€™m just too much of a wuss.
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