November 11, 2018
Halloween night I took off to my yearly “be-alone-in-a-cabin-in-the-woods” excursion. I take a survivor-girl attitude to this event. Isolated, no phone, no internet. If I fall while on a hike, I must crawl myself out to a far distant highway so somebody can find me. I survive boredom. I conquer fear. I keep warm only with a wood burning stove.
That was last year.
This year, I left during a month of craziness woven with conflict and schedules. That kind of stuff. I just kept hanging on because, “I’m going to the cabin in a few weeks. It’ll all be ok then.”
I thought magic would happen when I walked through that wood door. That I’d go from stressed to relaxed. It didn’t happen and it took me days to just settle my brain. Settle into quiet.
Lesson #1 Living life calmly and on purpose has to be done every day, all the time.
Then there was my eagerness to survive in the mini-wilderness alone. That didn’t happen either. Every cabin was rented, the campground was full, and people were hiking every trail. I didn’t get to be proud of myself surviving bitter cold while hiking around the lake. The temperature was mild, no hat or scarf was necessary.
Lesson #2 I need new mountains of challenge and risk to climb. I like those. I didn’t know that about myself. I’ll factor it in for future trips. Maybe I’ll even factor it into my life. Acceptable risk, that is.
Last year I was crazy with boredom, so I took along lots of stuff to do this time. Lots and lots. So much that I couldn’t decide what to do first.
Lesson #3 Boredom is good because it forces me to be creative and find something new to do. Or not do, as sitting and thinking and writing is ok, too.
The first day it rained all day. Pouring down rain. I just camped out on the sofa with a good book. A really good book recommended by a reader. “Wild” by Cheryl Strayed. Bold and colorful picture on front cover of a well-worn hiking boot. Read it in one day. I wanted to be there, not here. With people.
Lesson #4 Don’t read about conquering the Pacific Coast Trail, for three months alone and with bloody feet. Not when cabin-bound by rain and surrounded by people. Save that book for later.
But I think the biggest lesson I learned was that I can’t recreate super experiences. Each day is its own. It’s new.
And I’m new. I’m not the same as I was a year ago, nor am I really exactly as I was yesterday. And yay for that! Today is a new day, with new challenges, with new highs and lows, with new insights, with new things to, new experiences to have. With new people and new conversations. New mountains.
I’ll draw on my experience of yesterday, sure, but I won’t carry it with me into today or tomorrow. That backpack is way too heavy already.