My family and I spent two nights over the weekend in a cabin. Modern cabins, though, aren’t really back to basics like they once were. We had indoor plumbing, temperature control, electricity, and even wifi. It was, by no means, “roughing it.” I found, though, that my family was eager to get out of the small quarters. We boiled water on the stove, made our tea, and headed outside.
Our favorite moments from the weekend were sitting outside around a campfire. Feeling the warmth of the flames, roasting our marshmallows, and being entertained simply by watching small pieces of the wood burn.
Now I know why Henry David Thoreau spent time at a cabin in the woods.
I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only 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. I did not wish to live what was not life, living is so dear; nor did I wish to practise resignation, unless it was quite necessary. I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life, to cut a broad swath and shave close, to drive life into a corner, and reduce it to its lowest terms, and, if it proved to be mean, why then to get the whole and genuine meanness of it, and publish its meanness to the world; or if it were sublime, to know it by experience, and be able to give a true account of it in my next excursion.— Henry David Thoreau, Walden, “Where I Lived, and What I Lived For”
I think so many people want this experience. They want to escape not so that they’re avoiding life but so they can learn to enjoy it and embrace it and, I guess, suck out all the marrow. We’re constantly trying to simplify so that our experience of life isn’t clouded by clutter and technology and overprocessed foods.
So how do you make it happen? This is where we get lost, or maybe it’s just me that gets lost.
Start with our bodies. Our own personal selves. How do we simplify and focus?
Do we eat carbs or no carbs or only complex carbs? Or do we forgo carbs and eat like cavemen? Or do the cavemen have it all wrong and the problem is our sugar addiction and our cravings? Or is it processed foods? Or can we simply reduce it down to calories in and calories out? Even the messaging about simplifying our diet is so complicated. It’s why I have book after book after book telling me the way I should be living (Clean, The South Beach Diet, The Whole 30 Diet, The 17 Day Diet, The Core Balance Diet, etc.).
How about exercise? Should I run or is it bad for my knees? Should I be working out every day or 3 times a week or fitting it in where I can? Is taking the stairs every day really just as good as going to the gym? Do I do aerobic exercise or focus on muscle building or core strength? And what happens if I just don’t feel like it?
And our homes. Our personal sanctuary. How does it feel to you?
Again, we’re bombarded with how to live: tiny homes, feng shui, home organizations, clean living. My husband recently bought the book “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up” and it sits in a cluttered pile in our living room having never been opened. Telling?
And the rest of my world is exactly like that.
I’m a blogger. I think. Or am I writer? Or should I simply be called an influencer? I like to make videos but I should do it consistently but I’m not really a YouTuber. And do we like Facebook or not like Facebook? I forget. Does every post need a pinnable image or can I just write? Will people actually read it? Comment on it? Let me know I exist online?
It’s maddening. And if it didn’t feel maddening before, it probably does now. This is how my mind works on a daily basis and it’s exhausting. Throw in there all the confusing choices I have to make about marriage, parenting, what car to drive, what store to shop at, how not to ruin the environment, how to save the most money, and how not to piss people off.
So what’s the answer? How do you slow down the merry-go-round long enough to enjoy the scenery passing by? Or do you simply get off?
Frankly, I like to keep things in motion. I don’t like routine, schedule, or predictability but it is somewhat necessary when you want to refocus. And unfortunately for you, I don’t have the answer. If I did, I probably would have written one of those books to tell people exactly how to live their lives.
It’s a discovery process, just like it was for Henry David Thoreau when he set off to spend two years at Walden Pond. But the process is starting for me and if I figure it out along the way, I’ll be sure to share it with you.