Ebb and Flow

By , November 12, 2014

Our lifestyle presents many opportunities to observe and experiment with human nature. On a strictly amateur level, we note changes in the way we think, act and feel that have come about since moving away from modern mainstream living. Our daily conditions provide very different stimuli than most people in our society experience. We get far more fresh air, exercise, and exposure. We get far less artificial light, noise pollution, and time regimentation.

We observe subtle shifts in behavior as a result. I may have mentioned the pre-industrial sleep habits of human beings, that generally divide the night into two distinct sleeping periods rather than one. Supposedly, this pretty much died out in the western world after the industrial revolution. We noticed a shift in our sleep rhythm that sometimes leaves us awake for a period in the middle of the night. We might notice it more if we didn’t live with cats—our sleep rhythms are constantly messed with by theirs. Allowed to sleep undisturbed, and untroubled by artificial light, I suspect we’d see a clearer pattern shift toward the “two sleep” habit.

Our current lifestyle runs on obvious rhythms and tides (see Attuning to Natural Rhythms: “Livin’ by the Moon and Tide“) and far more subtle ones. I notice a rather distinct ebb and flow of mood in myself. I remember when biorhythms were a very popular topic. I mostly ignored the trend, but when I eventually scanned the information on it, it did seem to make certain amount of sense. It has been widely observed that our attention spans, energies, and desires ebb and flow throughout the day. The business world pays some attention to this, offering strategies for exploiting these natural rhythms to best corporate advantage. For most workers, though, staying productive generally means ignoring or overcoming these natural rhythms to function at a consistent level throughout the day.

Here on the “homestead” I don’t have to ignore them. I seem to have become more susceptible to them, having the luxury of allowing them full sway on my feelings and activities. I strongly suspect I’m messing with them a bit with a spike provided by a daily cup of coffee. Even so, I can feel this ebb and flow, and a longer cycle as well.

The longer cycle seems to involve mood, attention, and interest. On the flow, I become very active, tackling big projects, starting new ones, or at least planning ambitiously. On the ebb, not a lot gets done. Nor do I care greatly.

This cycle affects this blog more than most of our projects. It is my most scheduled task, and one of the least essential to our interests. These two aspects may be what makes it rise and fall in my ambitions. I’m sure I’ve spoken of it before—most of the time it’s important to me, and I’m challenged to write down all the ideas I have for it. Occasionally, though, it becomes an unpleasant obligation. I begin to feel like I don’t need to, and perhaps shouldn’t tell the world what we’re doing. I even begin to feel like no one cares, despite fairly steady, enthusiastic feedback from readers. Ebb and flow.

But hey, take what you’ve got and work with it. That’s our modus operandi here, is it not? And, on this day, when my interest in the blog has ebbed, I’ve managed to take that disinterest and turn it into another, fairly lengthy blog post. By the time I need to post the next essay, maybe I’ll be flowing again!

7 Responses to “Ebb and Flow”

  1. Norma Walston says:

    I read your blog faithfully even though I never reply. Do not think no one is reading it or cares. Very interesting. I have family that live in Wasilla and always looking for interesting blogs from Alaska. Thanks.

  2. Mark Zeiger says:

    Norma, thank you so much. You are precisely why I’m able to “know” that even when I feel unappreciated, writing the blog is worthwhile!

  3. Eva Hensley says:

    Mark, I read your blog faithfully and even though I don’t always reply, it makes my day to read your blog and my friend, Sierra’s blog (She’s a modern day Laura Ingalls and lives in South Dakota http://www.sierrashea.com). I’m fascinated with your lifestyle and enjoy your blog. Keep up the great work…and it’s ok if some days you just say “We’re alright but taking today off!” 🙂

  4. Martin says:

    Hi Mark…I have to agree with Norma. I too read your blog on a regular basis and find it both interesting and inspirational. Keep up the good work. Oh enjoy the coffee.

  5. Mark Zeiger says:

    Honestly, Folks, I did not mean to throw myself a pity party! Even so, we really appreciate your comments and support!

  6. Brian says:

    More flow, less ebb! I am a longtime reader of your blog and enjoy your posts a great deal.

    I have tried the two sleep rhythm and it works well for me in some situations. An hour or so of reading or writing in the night leaves me ready for another sleep. It also gives me a good reason to feed the fire.

  7. Mark Zeiger says:

    Very interesting, Brian, do you “induce” the waking period (by setting an alarm or the like) or does it happen naturally?

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