My classmates and I walked down the ramp. IT was time and I was annoyed. I was here for my first Ramsbotham jahr. Every teenager at 18 is required to.
The world has become such a frenetic place. Technology has changed the human equation so such a degree that once you are an educated adult, at 27, then you are able to do almost anything. Including to yourself. So long as it is informed and consensual, its game. However, there are people running around that are no longer anthromorphic. Or even corporeal. They chose to become such. And choice is all. Informed, consensual choice.
However, before the education can begin and before the near decade of semi adulthood begins, there is the first Ramsbotham jahr. Everyone, boy and girl, must go and live as our ancestors did. Before technology had come to divorce humanity from the world as our ancestors had known it for thousands of years. Some would learn to be dirt farmers. Others hunters. Still others would be smiths and lumberjacks. Learning to live in a manner long since gone. That life assumed scarcity and struggle. Things that the modern world no longer had if you were content with a lifestyle that would have made billionaires, the former 1%, envious a century or two ago.
At the bottom of the ramp, Rod Walker waited. He was a man who had elected to stay at the end of his second Ramsbotham jahr: everyone returned after the college education - the equivalent of multiple doctorates, bachelor's, etc from eons past - and spent another year living a different, basic life. A book end to your steeping in the modern.
And a chance to stay if you so wished. To rejected the modern for a simpler life. And some found it happier.
Those who stayed mentored and apprenticed those who came in for their jahren. They taught and minded and helped the visitors through their difficult times. After all, there was no feed to connect you to all your friends constantly. There was no constant stream of interesting stories. There was no bots that would at a thought provide you with anything you so desired. And were allowed at your age group.
I stood before Rob and sized him up. He was big. Not just in a physical sense, and he was that, too, but also in a larger than life sort of way. Even though he'd not said a word. I thought I'd tweak my nanites to give me a physique like that...but then realized they were inactive here.
He extended his hand and smiled. It huge and callused. I took it and we shook. How antiquated! We'd normally do this virtually through the squirting of fast data.
He took back his hand and motioned down the road. The dirty, dusty road and we walked together.
"Welcome to Earth," he said.
"It smells dirty and old," I replied.
"It is at that. It is at that. We're in the oldest part, for humanity, too: Africa. I have a funny story about that, but for another time. Tonight, we'll meet my friends, Robert and his wife Ginnie, Jackie and her husband. Then tomorrow we'll get started. The day starts early here. We're lumberjacks and we only use axe and saw. Manually."
I shuddered. Manual labor. gah. How...primitive.
"Oh, and be careful of the stobor...you won't believe how much of a headache those things gave me when I was your age."