Ever since our little cabin was introduced to the grid, I’ve been struggling with what to write. It’s as if gaining a functional bathroom and kitchen cost me my credibility (in addition to our savings). I no longer read by candlelight, carry in drinking water, nor depend upon a gravity fed hose for a shower. I’ve considered writing about living in a tiny house, but it turns out the cabin doesn’t qualify! According to Wikipedia, the information superhighway’s most reputable source, our 550 square foot home is too big to be a member of the tiny house club. With an area of less than 1,000 square feet, it is considered a “small house,” but really who wants to read about someone who lives in a small house? It just sounds noncommittal to me.
While I’m in love with our new home, I miss writing about our off the grid adventures. Would I trade it all in if I had the chance? Dismantle the electric lines and channel the well water back into the earth? Jim likely would, but I’m not so sure. I love being able to cook again, and grow veggies in the garden that is, as I type, being sprinkled with water from our well.
So, while I ultimately have no desire to turn back time, I do question what I could possibly bring to the table now that I’ve surrendered my off the grid status.
The response came to me this past Sunday en route to the summit of one of New Hampshire’s 4,000-footers. It was a particularly steep section of trail; the kind that reduces me to a series of footfalls and labored breaths. For a moment the obsessively goal-oriented cogs in my brain ceased their spinning in a sort of forced meditation. I was a left, then a right. An in, then an out. I was heat. And salt. And wet.
And I was awake. I was again the woman in a small, off the grid cabin. The introduction of convenience had not erased her. But it had made it harder to listen.
Here she was, not at the trailhead nor the summit of the mountain, but somewhere along the meandering trail that bridges the two. Here, in the quiet space between departure and arrival where I am nothing but a set of feet rising from and falling to the earth.
And she reminded me on Sunday that we are all wanderers along the trail. We build ourselves up with sturdy boots and reassuring maps, but at our center we are a teetering balance between lost and found. As I crept up the side of that mountain, this acknowledgment of my own precariousness filled me with certainty. It was the familiar wave of abundance and gratitude that swept over me in the cabin as I read by the light of candles or showered from a hose. It is the space of being without. The emptiness, that if we resist or exhaust the impulse to fill, will move us closer to ourselves and connect us more intimately with each other.
She is what I hope to share with you. The voice that I hear in these still places. Perhaps from the side of a trail, in the dip of a paddle, or from the turning of a ski as it floats down through a mountain of white. Maybe on occasion we’ll hear from her in the cabin, on evenings when the lights are switched off and the candles lit.
Those who enjoy being with her as much as I do may continue to tune in to this journey, though I give no guarantee or endorsement of where it will lead. For others more interested in the technical side of outdoor adventuring, I’ve begun writing gear reviews for a website called Trailspace. I may occasionally post those reviews here in an effort to balance my cerebral and philosophical minds (you can see examples of past reviews by clicking this link to my Trailspace Profile).
Here’s to making space for listening. And for holding hands through yet another leap of faith.