To the Woods

Roots + Wings with Rory Feek


Now that we’ve returned home from being out West and are back at the farm here in Tennessee, I’ve decided to take some time off… a year off, to be exact. Not a year off work, but off the internet.

It may seem strange to write a column about taking a year off the web for a magazine where most of its readers are Amish who don’t often use the internet anyway. The desire to unplug—or, more honestly, to understand why it could be important to do so—is already there for Plain people. But for me and the journey I’m on, these are new things that I’m still discovering.

I’ve been thinking about disconnecting for a good while now, thinking seriously for the last year or so. If you’ve read some of my earlier columns, you know that I’ve been slowly ‘dumbing-down’ my phone and simplifying our vehicles and lives to be more present in my life and community. Last summer, I took a hiatus from the web for a month and, since then, felt called to go deeper. Up until now, I hadn’t found the right time to make the choice and commit to it. And so, as Indy and I were pulling away from the lodge in Montana, I took one last look at Google maps on my laptop, wrote down directions for the 1,750-mile drive home, disabled wi-fi, and off we went “to the woods.”


Rory packing up to head back to Tennessee

Packing the van for the ride back home to Tennessee


My hope is that by disconnecting from the web, I can connect on a deeper level here at home with our farm, land, and community—with my family and friends, with God, and with the things that truly matter in life. I’m 57 years old, and who knows how much time I, or any of us, have. I want to live deliberately.

I love the Thoreau quote about his time at Walden Pond and his desire “to front the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.” For me, here at our farm a half-century later, my journey “to the woods” is less about the actual woods and more about going to a place we don’t know, where most other people aren’t, to see what I can learn there. To see what it has to teach me about life so that I don’t look back and say “I wish I had…” or wonder “what if.”

Most of my family and friends think I might be a little crazy. They mostly love their smartphones and iPads and all the things the web brings to their lives. For them, the ease of having access to everyone and everything all the time is wonderful. They love that they can push a button and Amazon will deliver whatever their hearts desire to their doorstep the next day.

For me, it’s more complicated than that. I’m not sure I want those things all the time. As a matter of fact, I’m sure I don’t want them all the time. I want something more than just more stuff. Or more information. Honestly, I want less of most of these things…


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Rory Feek is a world-class storyteller, songwriter, filmmaker, and New York Times best-selling author. As a musical artist, Rory is one-half of the Grammy-award-winning duo, Joey+Rory. He and his wife, Joey, toured the world and sold nearly a million records, before her untimely passing in March 2016.


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