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Posts Tagged ‘Solitude’


I am working harder now, than I have for years. It feels good. Began clearing brush and inspecting the woodlot. Also began realizing I am not all that young anymore. And sadly, it won’t get any better… As they say….”It is, what it is.”

There are advantages of living remotely, besides the peace and quiet from the rat race one experiences here in the woods.  There is also a learning curve involved.  It takes time to shed all the drama, noise and routines of everyday life that one has lived for decades. This is all the shit you carry with you along that road.  This shit needs to disappear.

The one important thing I learned is to not let your work identify who you are. One’s work is just a temporary extension of a multi-faceted lifestyle. If you do not separate your work from who you are, there will be a sense of loss once you retire. Just be forewarned…

Another benefit…or not… of solitude is the opportunity to engage your brain into a new level of thinking. Not that superficial brain activity that people do to get through the day, but something slower…deeper…more tangible. Thinking that asks pertinent questions of one’s self. Thinking may elicit moments of regret, or melancholy or bring a smile, a sense of accomplishment or a feeling pride in that you lived a good life as a good person. Here one can get a deeper sense of who one really is.  It is a time to unclutter and rid oneself of all that shit I carry, make choices of priorities and reconnect with my environment. It is a place and time to truly enjoy the awesomeness of mother nature and to give thanks to all the gifts one is given throughout one’s life. I have many…people I still carry in my heart and mind, a great family, many good friends and life accomplishments. The latter being something that validates the importance of our existence within our own minds…

Hiked up the back acres to mark trees for next year’s firewood and stopped to check on the well. Three tiles deep (12′ deep)and spring fed. The well is almost an 8th mile from the cabin and sits at a much higher elevation…hence, gravity feed water system. Clean spring water and no pump….

Spent the last week cleaning 40 years of grime off the log cabin and barn. Once cleaned and dried, the sealer went on, followed by new chinking. Chinking is an ongoing process, but I will have it done before winter. There is nothing major for projects, other than felling next years firewood.

The gardens are ready for next year’s planting and in a few weeks, I will be preparing all the flowerbeds for winter. I still need to power up the workshop so to be able to work out there during the winter months. The forge is in and working, and I am now scrounging scrap steel to practice the art of the blacksmith.

 

 

 

 

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For as many years as I can remember, my one constant was believing that one day, after I retired from the rat race, I would spend my days sitting on my porch, listening to the wind songs and staring contentedly at the mountains.  I even used this scenario in the groups I facilitated, designating this dream as my (for lack of a better term) “happy place.”

I finally retired.  Now, as I sit on my back porch, somewhere in the mountains in New Hampshire, I am still in awe and wonderment that I ever made it.  The quiet peacefulness is beyond awesome, the sounds of nature; inspiring and the view….

There are somethings that I should have realized when moving into the mountains.  Things like chinking the log cabin, prepping the gardens for winter, putting up several cord of firewood to keep myself from freezing and putting in a good supply of food stuff…just in case I can’t get into town.  The Farmer’s Almanac says it will be a bitter winter season with above average snow.  Average here is about 100″.  Enough to make things interesting.  Bring it on….I am finally home…

 

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“Every spirit builds itself a house; and beyond its house a world; and beyond its world, a heaven. Know then, that the world exists for you. For you is the phenomenon perfect. What we are, that only can we see. All that Adam had, all that Caesar could, you have and can do. Adam called his house, heaven and earth; Caesar called his house, Rome; you perhaps call yours, a cobler’s trade; a hundred acres of ploughed land; or a scholar’s garret. Yet line for line and point for point, your dominion is as great as theirs, though without fine names. Build, therefore, your own world.”
― Ralph Waldo Emerson

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I was recently described by a co-worker as “anti-social.” I smiled, knowing that the definition was not too far off track, but I have always disliked the prefix; “anti”. It seems so…anti-being.

 
Also recently I had the fortune of meeting a gentleman that has lived much of his senior life in a remote area of the Black Hills, here in South Dakota. He had lived a nongregarious lifestyle for many years and in many locations. He concluded that the locations in Alaska and Montana had been very remote and challenging and that he had thoroughly enjoyed these places, but as he aged, he said his needs had changed to where it was now required of him to be able to make it into town without hiking many miles to civilization.
As one who’s only contact with people is a rare trip into town for supplies, he described his choice of living in solitude as; “A time of self-discovery and learning our true destiny”.

 
I asked him if he ever felt loneliness. Looking out over the large golden valley that defined and enhanced the remoteness of the area, he replied that solitude is a prerequisite of understanding one’s self. He explained that there are occasions where he did feel an emptiness, but only when he remembered back to those he had lost along his journey of life. He described family members and friends as gifts that he will always carry with him and that he missed the closeness of these times.

 
Solitude and Loneliness. Though both conditions are self-induced mind frames, they are completely different with the exception of a commonality of being physically alone. While solitude is chosen, loneliness is/can be imposed by others as well as self-imposed. The capacity to experience true solitude comes from an inner spiritual understanding.

 
Solitude can be beneficial in several of today’s environments where life is full of stress. The craziness of the world, the violence, greed and self-narcissistic mentality of society can become overwhelming at times. The intrusive mentality of government and big business can also be overpowering. By encompassing solitude we can defeat a number of our problems by discovering which ones are truly important and which ones are situations we cannot change.

 
“But isn’t isolating just a want of disconnecting from life?” No. Solitude is not isolation but a state of being aware of our actual requirements and objectives in life, which are normally not visible to us by the complex and intrusive demands that work and society try to command from us. Solitude is a state of being in the present, a state of relaxation and a motivation of life itself. Solitude assists us in unblocking the barriers in finding joy in relationships, enhances our imagination and creativity, and can lead to a greater inner peace of mind and spirit.

 
Solitude is an extraordinary steward of the human spirit and shows us that living each moment as a new moment, creates within us a greater sensitivity to one’s thoughts, feelings, and physical sensations. That is the real message of solitude, and it is through this fundamental self-awareness, that we find our true selves.

 

 

 

solitude

 

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Sunsets, mountains, solitude, a comfortable old rocking chair and a unique companionship.

The Missouri River

Another hard day of work faced him, but his commitment to this new life drove him on with an intense determination to finish the uncountable tasks he needed to complete before the snows hit.  That morning, a light patchy mist enveloped his ridge, appearing to him like an unknown army of wavering ancient ghosts upon the muffled landscape. Taking sips of his strong, pungent coffee, waiting for his breakfast to finish frying, he noticed a subtle movement on the edge of the haze covered tree line. He watched as a large wolf emerged from the ghostly mist and walked slowly and deliberately towards him. Something inside told him he had nothing to fear, but he reached for his hunting knife anyway, slipping it close just in case his instincts proved to be incorrect. The old wolf continued to approach, stopping several times to survey the old man before coming to within several feet, then sitting back on its haunches, and looked at the frying with sizzling meat. There is definitely something unnatural happening here and the old man sat in wonderment. With slow movements, the old man took a piece of uncooked venison from the cooler and tossed it to the wolf. With movements that reminded the old man of a favorite dog from many years before, the wolf bent down, sniffed the piece of still bloody meat that landed close to his immense paws and picked it up, slowly chewing. He seemed to savor not only the morsel, but the ease of its gain.  He old man chuckled as he realized he was not entirely alone on this mountain side. His fantasy provided a pseudo companionship that was missing from his life. A bond seemed to have developed, and the old man sat in peace.

“You know, you and I. we’re both the same. We live our lives alone, relying on our instincts in nature to keep us alive and never giving up our freedom.” the old man said. “Maybe some day, you will understand what I am telling you.” The wolf stared back and blinked. 

Breakfast finished, the two departed and the old man went back to work. Progress was continuing slowly and the rain tight roof began to take shape. Soon he would be living comfortably in his little one room log cabin. The plans for this new home came from his dreams. Small, warm, and with a front covered porch facing the setting suns.

“Home.” he thought. “And here I will watch my final sunset.”

What is life? It is the flash of a firefly in the night. It is the breath of a buffalo in the wintertime. It is the little shadow which runs across the grass and loses itself in the sunset.”  Crow Nation

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Sunsets, mountains, solitude, a comfortable old rocking chair and a unique companionship.

He remembered vividly the first encounter with this magnificent animal. It had happened many years ago, when he first came to this high mountain meadow and began reconstruction of this old log cabin. With lots of work to do before winter settled in up here in the mountains, and it arrives early, the old man spent most of his daylight hours repairing the cabin and putting up his winter supplies.

He had just sat down to rest from felling a large tree when he heard the sound of snapping dried brush. Startled, he turned to face a large wolf, close enough to see the reflection in its eyes. Fear kept the old man sitting, watching. They stared at each other for several minutes before the wolf turned and slowly disappeared back into the thick forest from where he came. Unnerved, but with a sense of wonderment, the old man sat pondering what the hell that was all about. Something much more different had just happened than anything he had ever encountered before in his long life and he sat in awe.

Realizing he was wasting daylight, he returned to the task of limbing out the felled tree that would, in time, become part of his new home. The work was hard, but the work helped with the constant heaviness in his heart. He truly missed his wife. Their marriage was long and filled with all the positive things that a good marriage is supposed have. He missed the light-hearted conversations, the warmth of her body against his on cold winter nights, and all the little things that made her his wife. She was the kindest, most compassionate woman he had ever met, and her absence was an ever-present abstraction in life. One that brought a warm smile to his face and painful tears to his heart.

As he rested upon the stump, feeling the warm late summer breeze upon his face, his thoughts transported him back to a time many years ago. A time when his world was right. Good times, with many laughs and much closeness.  In time, he learned to accept the fact that she was gone and he treasured the quality of life they shared those last years and all those precious memories he held.

Loneliness adds beauty to life.  It puts a special burn on sunsets and makes night  air smell better…Henry Rollins

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How to organize your photographs without going crazy…

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Sunsets, mountains, solitude, a comfortable old rocking chair and a unique companionship.


The old man sat quietly on the steps of his small hand-built log cabin overlooking the vastness of a high mountain meadow. His realization that his days were numbered rested quietly on his mind as he contemplated the many years he had lived a good life. He counted his good friends, good family and the many fine memories he owned and genuinely knew he had prospered where many others had not. High in these remote mountains he had lived since he found himself alone. He now relished the seclusion away from busy and overwhelming noise of civilization. The peace and quietness had helped sooth the loss in his life and rendered a spirituality that created a connection with the natural world. Here he was home at last.

 

As he sat quietly thinking of those times he had relished his good fortunes, he heard the subtle approach of padded feet come slowly around the cabin and stop close to where he was sitting. The old man slowly raised his head and knew that his only companion sat quietly in front of him. Their eyes met, relaying a trust and understanding of what friendship truly was. The old wolf, eyes showing a trusted reliance existed between them, sat intently watching the old man.

“My friend,” the old man said slowly, “Our time is coming to an end. We both have lived a long life, and we both can leave knowing we did our best.”  The old wolf rose to his feet and came closer to the old man. His eyes showed an understanding of what the old man had said and moved to nuzzle the man’s hands. A knowing smile appeared on the old man’s weathered face and he knew that this unequaled bond was one of genuine friendship, born from solitude.

A distant rumble of thunder that echoed down the valley, reverberating off the granite ledges and rolling into the vast nothingness brought him back to life. The rainstorm was far from him, but here, the sun still shone on his rough face. He stood up stoically and picking up his tools, he placed them in the bed of his antiquated Jeep. Another day completed, the old man returned to his log cabin, prepared and ate a small dinner, then retired to his sleeping bag, content in the fact he had accomplished much of the work he had planned for today. Sleep came very quickly. 

Morning had come to the high country. Mist spread across the low lands and the sun peeked through this fog, turning the chilled air a subtle orange. The air  crisp, clean, and invigorating.  Stirring the coals of last night’s fire, the dropped a few pieces of dried firewood into the old woodstove and prepared his breakfast. Good, strong hot coffee with fried potatoes and a slab of fresh deer meat. The aroma of the coffee had shaken his memory of when, as a child, he had gone with his dad as he cut pulp wood for a little extra income to help feed the family. The coffee his dad made over the fire was strong and pungent. 

“So long ago.” he thought, “Where did time go.”


This is an excerpt from “The Old Wolf”.

Written by me, and lost for a while.

Maybe……someday I will finish it.

“Treat the earth well: it was not given to you by your parents, it was loaned to you by your children. We do not inherit the Earth from our Ancestors, we borrow it from our Children.”

Photographs and Creativity from the High Plains.

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