• Mike Erkkinen

The real "product" that everyone seems to want in 2020.

I've been noticing a trend or a pursuit for a while, that seems to be getting sharper and more focused in 2020. I talk to many people who are looking to simplify life, live closer to nature, be more self reliant and less reliant on institutions that don't seem to care about them, have more time to do things they love, and be with whom they enjoy. Even the tiny home movement that keeps gaining momentum, and the fact that RV's are selling like hotcakes, seems to point to a basic human need for INTIMACY.

Many folks my age - late 50's - are single, and looking for a way to connect with community in a meaningful way, and not finding it on dating sites. I've been noticing that as I get older, I measure success less by material accomplishments and more by human connection, time with my family, fun with friends, being a supportive father, son, brother, uncle, etc.

At present there seems to be a mass exodus from U.S. cities, ostensibly to get away from violence, looting, and fear of covid, but I wonder how many people have been waiting for an excuse to leave places that seem to support isolation more than they catalyze community. In my small village of under 1000 people, I feel a sense of extended family with everyone around me. In the short periods of time I've spent in dense population areas, I felt more of a sense of anonymity or competition - trying to "beat the crowd" or "escape the traffic."

I have a friend considering making her next home a sailboat, and one attractive feature of this lifestyle for her is that anchorages afford sort of an "instant community," where cruising sailors tend to support each other in a way that is rare in land based life. Obviously living on a small boat affords the intimacy of a small living space, and being very close to the natural world. Tide, wind, rain, temp all become the most important parts of life in boat life - where land life is often about trying to make nature completely irrelevant to one's agenda.

As I am chewing on my own life decisions, and helping others with theirs, I will continue to work on understanding this basic human desire to touch each other in special ways, and how we might construct our lives to support this sweetest of human needs. As the world is staying 6+ feet apart, wearing masks, avoiding both strangers and getting together with family and friends, being polarized by politics, constructing racial divides, and all manner of separation, I will continue to ponder the healing effects of human connection.

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