As you know, I live in the city, in a studio smaller than most people’s garages, filled with boxes and containers from my farm. It was small before I brought anything in, it is much smaller in navigable space now, lol! So open space, I love it. It ain’t happenin’ here on a day to day basis, and over the period of the next two years while I work on my escape plan, I suspect I may have a broken toe or two possibly 🙂
The property owner took off for work before dawn the second day, and I returned to town for a marvelous hot shower, an atrocious but delicious breakfast treat from one of my best friends, and a few hours of talking about dreams and what could be done on the property without infringing upon its true nature – a hunting property. We went back to the campsite and I took her down to the homestead to have a look around. Then off she went back to her hubby and home in Kentucky, and I was (shamelessly) gloriously and happily alone in the woods. I pulled up my lawn chair and a new book of poetry, and read poetry out loud, trying out the words and different cadences while just enjoying the natural sounds around me, the slight chill in the air, and the lack of anyone about to give my attention to. I sunbathed. I laid the book on my tummy and just shut my eyes and listened. If a person could marinate in solitude, that is what I was doing. It isn’t that I don’t like people. The ones that are important to me and that I care for, I love without regard for self or time. If they need me and it is within my power to be there for them, I will be there. Just lately, particularly in the three weeks before this trip, I was beyond frazzled. Worn plumb out, to quote my late Grammy. Tired as the dickens (not sure who, or what, the dickens actually are). I sorely needed true and valid solitude, and I received it. The lack of need to care for or attend to others allowed me to care for and tend to me. It is an amazing thing to have no timeline, no calendar or clock framework to move within. The rest of that day was pure laziness, except for what it took to build a fire and secure a meal for myself. I did some writing. I rested my working brain and let my dreaming brain take full control.
I did things like notice the clouds up in the sky. I listened to birdsong and tried to identify the species. I just sat in silence and relaxation, and did not feel one whit guilty. I am of the mind that if we attend to ourselves, we are better in every other role that we fill – employee, parent, partner, friend. Yet the cultural mantra of today, driven mostly by doers, is that we must always be there for others. We are often called ‘selfish’ if we withdraw, or pass up a social activity or even, heaven forbid, a family one. It is NOT selfish to fill your own tank. It is the way to better clarity, better energy, a better you – it allows you the strength and restoration to then be fully present when you have other roles to fill. There’s my stand this week for introverts everywhere, and probably even a few extroverts and ambiverts as well.
By the way, clouds are beautiful!
Lest you think all was perfect in the kingdom of solitude, stay with me for a few moments more. As darkness fell and my very first night on my own approached, I tended to the fire, to securing and covering the firewood to prevent moisture from collecting, and personal necessaries. But the darkness is darker when one is alone. It is amazing what the presence of another person does for your courage. This first night, my courage must have either returned to Kentucky in my friend’s truck, or perhaps in the back seat of the property owner’s rental car as he headed out for work. Because alas, there was none left in the camp when actual real darkness slid over the sky and crept around the fire, slithered in between the fire and the tent, just a few feet away and filled up vast empty space outside of my meager fire and solar light fields. Suddenly I realized I was A.L.O.N.E. in a wild place. I admit I got a tiny bit, okay, a lot, panicky. Too many horror movies and family mean-well warnings appeared in my emotional brain quite unannounced, and I scurried into my tent and zipped it shut. Never mind that a few millimeters of nylon wouldn’t make a hill of beans of difference between me and whatever I imagined. Rational thought had left the building along with Elvis. I called a very good friend who has done quite a bit more adventuresome camping than I have, and relayed my fears. She quickly made the connection that her normally pretty rational and calm friend was a bit out of whack, and brought me back to earth with just a few comments. Last known news event of someone being trampled to death in a tent by deer? Um, never? Last known news of a coyote attacking a grown adult? No, can’t recall one. And how many people in third world countries sleep even without a tent, in places where things far more dangerous live? Oh, maybe millions? Yeah, I felt pretty darn silly for my near freak-out. I hung up the phone, turned on “Piano Opus”, and settled right down to sleep. I did awaken a bit more than normal that night, particularly when the coyotes started full bore quite a bit closer than the previous night’s chorus sounded. But sleep I did, and awakened very early to watch another dawn appear. Nothing got me. Nothing wanted me or my wood, or the lawn chair. I felt a bit silly that day, and each night on my own I stayed out of the tent later and later, to watch the stars come out and dazzle me with their brilliance and mass. And that my friends, was one hell of an accomplishment for me. You see, I’ve been scared of the dark since I was very little. Not only are there psychological reasons for that (if you’ve read my blog in toto, you will understand a bit), but also in addition to my personal fears, as the only girl in a family of alllll boys, I was the one that was teased, sent outside where giant wolf spiders and snakes lived (think very, very country old Florida forty so years ago), and the one that married a guy that thought it was hysterically funny to jump out and scare his already terrified-of-the-dark wife time and time again.
This wasn’t just a camping trip for me. It was a choice to live and face things I needed to overcome. It was activity chosen to cause me to have to stand my ground and see if they were as bad as the monsters that sometimes occupy my head space, unbidden. That first sunrise was a very beautiful thing for me, because I did it. I live by the motto “Everything you’ve ever wanted is right outside your comfort zone.” I push myself because there is no one around to do it for me. I am my own cheerleader (although my great friends also chime in for this an awful lot, THANK YOU!). And this shot below was my reward…
I can’t promise you that every time you step out of your comfort zone, that it will be happy, fun or even comfortable. But sometimes, it will be more than you can even imagine. Every moment of this trip was more than I imagined it could ever be. It changed me, not the essential me, but the outward me. I’ve lost a lot of the markers of success in the last few years, lost the first man that ever truly loved me and believed in me, lost my little piece of ground that I could call “my” woods, my barn, my little farmhouse, and recently I lost a little bit of me in a love misadventure as well. I struggle to put my life back on the track that I want to pursue. I wrestle with waiting, with being fiscally responsible, with living in a very tiny place with neighbors far too close to me, understanding that one misstep could set me back even farther. I sometimes lie in my bed, right before sleep, and ask myself “Is this ever really going to happen for me again, to live the life that I crave, that makes me whole, that, in some way, heals me?” These are things that I speak to no one about, the doubts, the worries, the constant daily getting up and donning of the ‘big girl panties’. Yeah, I post a lot of positive, cheery, gung-ho things. I have to. If I don’t grab daily every good thing that I can and fill myself with that, I could easily give up. And I am not a quitter. Nope. Neither one of the opportunities before me are sure things – they both involve other people, who have their own lives and families, commitments, constraints, things that are beholden to me in no way. They are simply friends with something to potentially offer. I could still become a casualty of things beyond my own control. That’s life. We can’t always craft it perfectly, and I am thankful even to be able to consider these things as possibilities. Folks, there are no sure things but death, and taxes. You gamble, every day that you get out of bed and do anything. Thankfully, I have others in my life who may be able to help me – and they may not. It surely doesn’t stop me from dreaming, planning, adding up costs, paying off my bills instead of doing other, more fun things. We all have to have a dream, or three. And one way or another, even if I’m eighty when it happens, I. Will. Do. It. Maybe with help, maybe by clawing my way there, I don’t know yet 🙂
But I’ll never stop dreaming of it…because dreams are in the spaces between your bones, your sinew, your veins, that infuse all of you and keep you standing upright – dreams are the stuff our souls are made of.
So dream. Touch your own soul. And encourage others to do the same.
Copyright© S. M. King “Scraps Torn From A Diminutive Notebook” project 2013-2014