Sometimes the urge to escape is fierce. Other times it’s just middlin’. The serious fierce urge usually signals pain and time for withdrawal. The middlin’ variety is usually more like a check-in with what’s going on with myself and occasionally involves well — a birthday.
Earlier this week I took three days off and drove to a rustic cabin in the Ozarks for a little time with myself. I consider this time alone – away from responsibilities – a good way to re-evaluate the past year, or several years, and see if I’m on the right path with my life. It takes several hours on the road before all the voices of the inner critic fall silent. (You know the inner critic right? The voice that says, “what a bozo” to about everything.) Once that happens I find I can journal and think about the things in my life that have occurred and how I’ve dealt with them.
Socrates said “The unexamined life is not worth living.” Not that I’m some great philosopher, but I think if you never ask yourself the hard questions (am I doing what I’d like to be doing, am I happy, do I follow my own advice, do I respect myself and others, what changes can I make…) then you are just plodding along with someone else steering your life or maybe just standing still and not actively involved in your own life. I’m not sure which is worse, but neither are very good.
Being in a beautiful natural setting does wonders for the spirit. Of course, I am lucky enough to live on a beautiful farm, but if I’m home I’ll find this and that to do and only occasionally get quiet enough to check in without a sense of guilt over not taking care of the endless things that I should be working on instead of being in my head.
My only responsibility on this getaway trip was to feed myself. That’s pretty easy. Once I arrived the first order of business was to unload my car of groceries and personal items. I spread out all my “stuff” on the kitchen table. Journal, pen, snacks, food, colored pencils, books. The window beside the table opened onto a deck. From the deck I could see where the Buffalo River takes a turn and the mountains beyond. I made myself some hot tea and settled in.
Soon I got down to journaling. At some point I looked up over the rim of my reading glasses and out the window. The mountain looked like it was on fire! I panicked and rushed out onto the deck. It was the sun’s last light, not fire. The colors were spectacular — in the clouds, the sky and on the mountain. I decided it was too good to miss so I threw on a sweater and took a little walk.
The first night in the cabin was cold, much colder than I had anticipated – in fact – it got down to 30 degrees F (that’s -1C). All night I ran the cabin heater and snuggled under the quilt and a blanket. The next morning the fog over the river was incredibly thick. As I drank a second cup of coffee I watched as it slowly disipated.
Then I switched from jeans to shorts and pulled on a sweater over a tank top to go for a 3.5 mile hike. I took my camera, my journal and my sweet time on the hike. Just as with journaling, I looked for new growth, simple beauty, tranquility, abundance, slick spots, flights of fancy, and hazardous terrain.
Here are a few highlights – from the hike that is.
|Question Mark Butterfly|
|Eastern Tiger Swallowtail|
After spending over three hours out in the woods I tiredly made it back to my little cabin. Then I had a nap, read a little, did some knitting, more journaling and before long I discovered I was ready to head into the nearby town for dinner.
The second day had flown quickly. The third day dawned bright and sunny. I drove home to find a smiling man and four crazy dogs happy to see me. I think I’m ready for another year.