Every fall I go away for an extended time alone in a cabin in the woods and I’m off to do so again in a few days. I’ve chronicled it in previous posts. I choose state park cabins because they are fairly primitive: no TV, no internet, heat by wood stove. There are lots of trails, which I love because I do some of my best restful pondering while hiking. I am totally alone for at least four full days! Even my phone is out of reach of a tower. Often I am the only cabiner in the park, so I need to be extra careful hiking. If I fall and sprain an ankle or break a leg, I have would have to crawl out! It is an exhilarating adventure that I look forward to every year.
However, I have learned that I have a pattern of “it’s wonderful” to “it’s awful”. The first day I’m just getting settled, putting all my journaling and art stuff where I want it, laying out a jigsaw puzzle, getting a fire started and food organized. I peruse the trail map and outline each day’s hiking, hoping to do at least three each day.
Day two, I hike and write and draw and keep my fire going so I don’t freeze and generally enjoy the solitude, the absolute quiet. I do all the things I wish I had time for at home, and generally feel really good.
Somewhere in day three, boredom sets in. Unbearable boredom. I’ve done everything I wanted to, done three hikes, read, napped, all of it. And it’s only 2:00! The long afternoon and evening stretch before me and nothing, absolutely nothing, sounds like fun! I am so bored! I fuss around a bit and then notice that it’s now only 2:30! Those long silent hours I craved are now looming before me like a monster. I suffer through the next day or so. It is suffering because I almost become brain dead and just want to sit and do nothing. I can’t sleep. It is truly awful!
But then the miracle happens on the next day and my brain has divested itself of all the distractions that clutter my life and I come alive again. More alive than before I embarked on this journey! I am full of energy and ideas and feel inspired to do a ton of things. Mostly I love the new ideas and inspirations that come flooding over me. It is truly wonderful!
I’m thinking maybe I don’t need to always go away into the woods to find this place in my soul. I’ve become aware of how often, at home, my days are cluttered with distractions that hinder creativity. That hinder peace in my soul.
We seem to live in a culture that does not allow for boredom and so we avoid it at all cost. And so I wonder, if I had days at home set apart from chatter and internet and television and fussing about my house or yard, could I bring some of the peace and turmoil from the cabin into my regular life? What would happen?
Would I get those amazing inspirations more often? If I couldn’t pick up my phone, or check email or Facebook and Instagram, couldn’t turn on my laptop, what would happen? If I stopped fussing with my yard and house, what would happen? How many things on my “to do” list really need to be done today? If I let myself be bored for a while at home, what would happen?
It is a struggle because I am by nature and “doer”, one who gets things done and is super organized. But age and past illnesses are forcing me to take pause and think differently. About what matters and what brings me joy and excitement and what I really want to do with the remaining good years of my expiring life.
What would happen if we all did it? I’m gonna try it! Because becoming bored makes those things clear. Let’s go be bored today!