So. My social media fast is not so much. Because life. But I’m starting #31days anyway. This means I’ll post every day for the month of October. I am giving myself a half hour each day to get the post up and posted, so that’s either stream of consciousness and deep aching truths that barrel out of my heart at full steam, or it’s just really a short post with a lot of typos.
We’ll find out together.
I’m fascinated by the ways that my head (and really anybody’s head) can become such an energized thing, that it pulls you in one direction or another direction or lifts you right off of the ground. I’ve learned this in all my years of trying to be a person. I am so capable, of both compassion and literal accomplishment, if I can stay out of own way.
But so often I can’t.
I have all these thoughts, and they’re all so strong. Like unbroken horses. My son and I just read the story of how Phaethon, son of the Sun, got to drive the sun’s chariot one day but he couldn’t control the horses and so he took the sun itself right off its course. The rest of the story is just what you might expect. But I think sometimes I live just like that kid — half god and I’m half mortal, driving things I don’t know how to drive with horses I can’t control.
I tend to find my way in simple tasks. Hard work. Intention. I become more myself when I am boxed by the limitations of my mortality. Because the other option is to be boxed in by the limitations of my ego, which wants me to do or be or stand for this or that. It’s timid, and fearful, and incredibly boring. Or, the opposite of boring.
We’re coming into fall for real, and night keeps showing up like an early and uninvited visitor right to my dinner table. It’s like the playmate nobody wants showing up in our play hour on the trampoline or in the garden. I think I’m having some feelings about the winter coming.
This will be my third winter in the yurt, and even as a few things are way easier than last year — a nice warm electric LED light, and charged computers and wifi, all AMAZING — I’m still kind of dreading the winter months. Last weekend I was chatting with a stranger at a social gathering, who had lived off grid very near us for a couple of years. He said off grid is great in the spring, in the summer you’re happy and everything is nice, and the fall is real pretty, but the winter isn’t joking around.
As much as the off grid life has given me all sorts of things I want, and things I love, the winters have also given me some residual trauma. It’s not so simple as I’d like. I still have a tendency — because my head is so energized, and pulls me this way and that — to bring myself back into line with big, jerky movements. Sometimes I harm myself with the same medicine I had gathered for the cure. And then, funny thing about this broken world. The bigger and more jerky my movements are, the more likely I am to hear from reality TV producers, or get a lot of attention on the Internet.
I’ve been writing and talking a lot about where #offgrid meets normal. I’m not, as my friend Sarah Joslyn just said to me, a trained monkey. I’m not the kind of off grid spectacle that people might expect. I’m not doing what I do because heroism or celebrity is good for the soul. What brings me peace, and beauty, and closeness with the things and people and creatures that I love, is simple work…simple, simple work and daily beauty.
Stacking the wood, spreading the straw, digging in the earth, reading the alphabet, kneading the bread. All these things are houses for moments of holy: delighted smiles, peaceful hearts, warm bellies. Content and satisfaction that lasts, not driven by the yearning for the next, best, coolest thing, but rooted in pattern and bound by the walls of our mortality.
Two years ago, when I first did the #31days challenge I needed it to soften some stiff places in my writing. I had not in the habit, in previous days, of allowing people to know that I was related to the author Carla Emery. The contradictions and imperfections of the back to the land movement of the 70’s basically played out in real time in my family life. And for a long time I didn’t talk about that at all. I used the 31days on Wilderness to unbind my tongue.
This year I have no burning issue to unveil. But I still will post these rambling, thoughtful pieces each day to work into places that have been inarticulate, and bring sound into places that have been silent. I don’t know yet, how it will change me — and how the project itself will change along the way — but I’m quite sure it will.
I’m still working on the catch phrase and the blog button. These are not the things my deep and rambling soul does well. But accept a welcome in my native language, which is the language of details and complexity and soul things.
You are welcome here, where we value rest and process and rumination. You are welcome to rest here, where things don’t move as quickly as they do in other places. You are welcome to come here unfinished and unsure, but hopeful. We’ll find out together.
This whole #31days thing is inspired by this community, although I always forget to actually link up. HAHAHAHA. Maybe this year will be different and I’ll pull off a cute button and a catchy title, we can always pray. Anyway. Many other bloggers that I know also engage this tradition, and I hope to share a few of them as we go along. Happy October!