Here and now

The simple act of replacing the calendar, changing the number we write on our personal checks or type on our business memos from 11 to 12. That’s it, nothing more. Except what we make of it. A big deal. A time of reflection.

I’m never one for resolutions, but big on reflections. This year I attempt to reflect less on the past, more on choices, paths, futures. Directions. But I have no crystal ball. Unable to look ahead, uncertain of the here and now, I find myself reluctantly turning back. Reflecting on the past. It’s comfortable, safe, known.

And confusing, because memory distorts the past. I forget sometimes why I left.

The big move. It was going to bring me to a new wild world. Raw land, and an open canvas, a new life unfolding, unfurling, one grain of sand at a time.  I anticipated a deep relationship beginning, blossoming. The slow initiation. Two fresh lovers unsure of one another, eager, reaching, curious, tasting, touching.

We leaped; a net appeared.

The jump itself is exhilarating. Then the dust settles and we look around and try to make sense of where we are.

Here. Now.

I return from a snowshoe where I crossed over others tracks. In hopes of not disturbing the skier’s lines, I found myself post holing on the side hill. I don’t understand the etiquette yet. Every place has a different set of rules.

I’m used to being alone. My tracks. My rules. As selfish as it seems. It is what I was used to. I shared those little lines about the mountain set by my humble snowshoes quite happily with the coyote and bobcat and fox and martin, and grumbled under my breath when the moose chose my path, punching deep holes, long strides, just wide enough for my snowshoes to tip over and suck me in to some great white abyss.

Was it last year I went three months without leaving the mountains, and saw eight people all winter? And I was content.

Careful what you ask for. After years of spending isolated winters or summers with Mother-in-law-from-hell and her entourage, small but damaging as it was, I said I wanted neighbors, good neighbors. Now I have them. I have met more caring, interesting, involved, active neighbors in one month than I met in ten years in Colorado. Mind you, they are closer here. But I’m certain it’s more a matter of attitude, not distance.

And yet, already I see that wonderful as this is, it’s not the life for me. A social life. My hermit ways are only growing stronger, more defined. I hear them now clearly, growling, snarling, sneering and threatening to rebel.

When out of one’s element, by necessity perhaps, we learn to define who and what we are. What matters most. What parts of the past have formed us and do we allow to carry through into our futures?

I am missing my hermit ways. You can adjust, loved ones have assured me, to a social situation. Yes, I can adjust, but do I thrive? Like a wild cat in a zoo? Is captivity the best choice?

It’s no big deal, I tell myself. Then why do I feel distraught? My eyes are burning and wet but refuse to shed a tear. There is nothing wrong and yet nothing feels quite right.

Perhaps when my horses are here, though even then I shall find myself a hobby horsewoman having horses without horse work. Another part of the definition I had formed for myself that was left behind.

And the greatest part of me left behind? The deep wilds. And my part in them. My connection to them. I turned my back and walked away. Severed the cord. And find myself left like a babe learning to breathe.

Perhaps I can learn to breathe here. Deeper, richer, fuller than the thin air of the high mountains.

In the meanwhile, I feel somehow empty. Gasping for breath. That fish out of water.

And find my mind, without the connection with the wilds around me, resembles a blank canvas, an empty page. There is a hollow void.

The choice, then, is how I choose to fill it.

Or leave it sparse, and turn the page.

9 thoughts on “Here and now

  1. Great piece Gin. I am in the opposite situation. I have been in this place since 1990 and known since the early 2000s that I needed to find somewhere else. Never felt at home here and began searching for the place I would know is home. Long story short…I found it by accident, a two hour drive away.

    Since 2008 I have tried off and on to sell my house, which is a nice townhouse, but it has not happened yet. I could rent it, but for various reasons that is not the right choice for me. I need a clean break so I can start fresh in the new place which is really home for me. The time will come I know, and I look forward to the time I get moved to my HOME, where I feel energized, inspired, motivated, the place and people have embraced me and I them.

    I pray you find your peace and joy…some how.

    • I understand and relate more than you’d guess at first, Ann. Our decision to move came years ago, I believe in 07, after saying “enough!” to my husband’s family mess all around us. After waiting all those years and like you, no sale, we decided to try a different route. Up and moved by rentiing. A crazy risk, now that I look at it, but something had to give, and sitting around waiting, so “stuck” like I’d felt for years (sound familiar?), we created a change. It’s good to get the ball rolling on one hand, but the compromise of finding myself in a situation so beyond my personal choice is confusing. We’ll see what further time here brings. Connection or departure or something else I have not yet considered. I look forward to seeing your journey unfold, Ann. May your metamorphasis begin!

      • Thanks Gin. Now I understand why you left the other place and sorry you ended up having to rent your place there.
        I could rent this place easily, but thinking about all the issues of renting it out and me being the sole owner and my own support, it makes my gut hurt. I see too many renters stop paying their rent and leaving without notifying the owners.

        I am blessed with having found THE PLACE which I realized is HOME to me…never felt that way before, not even the place I was born and raised.

        I have up and relocated 3 times in my life. One of those was renting out my condo in Miami and moving to Ireland. I did have a good person who took care of my condo, including getting new renters when needed, even paying my mortgage if renter was not found in time. However, the last renters who had moved out when I moved back to the US (to Atlanta) had left a real mess. It was sold for what I paid for it 14 years before.

        The market here is terrible for housing, and jobs. I pray for one of God’s miracles regarding my townhouse because I need a clean break this time so I can totally begin my new life, where I feel so totally at home, fresh and new.

  2. I’m crying my eyes out right now…I think you understand. I’ll try to write more later…after I’ve processed all this. But my first thought is, have the ties really been severed? Even though my life is in the city, I understand the way you feel, the way you thrive being a “hermit”. So many thoughts, so much to say, so much yearning…me because I’ve never really had it (well, except for a few precious weeks last year ;.>), and you because you know better than anyone the joy and peace of solitude. I’m rambling, I know…for now you must choose to thrive in the here and now and know that the answer will come…

    • I think I do understand, Karen, and believe me, I’m as confused about it all as you are. I have no answers, no direction, and that’s what I need. I trusted the appearance of the net, and am grateful for it, but find I need more. “Needing” is an odd thing. Good on one hand that is drives, creates change, and from that works of beauty and art follow. Staying the same never happens. Finding a place I can remain… well… that I HOPE will happen…

      PS – Rambling is good, I hope. It’s what I do all the time!

  3. Gin, this empty canvas is a wonderful gift. Discontent can be a very good thing. Put your backside to the wind and ride it out! No, WRING IT DRY! This is what makes us, keeps us from stagnation, gives us fodder for writing.

    Wilderness is patient, awaiting your return to wrap you up in her wild, bony arms, with spindrift at your feet and coyote harmonizing your song.

  4. Oh Gin, the frustration of a wild place that ought to be perfect but isn’t. And now the feeling of being trapped in a nice place that still seems like a prison. After surviving harsh winter with her brutal but even-handed rules, how fickle people seem with their quirks and selfishness. This new place is crowded and bemusing and pointless. It’s a test of patience rather than those special skills honed in the wilderness. And all the time an annoying little voice whispers that if only life had played out differently then that former home would have been perfect. You had difficult in-laws, my body was damaged. Fate laughed at us, and that laughter was more potent than the harshest winter. Now we are where we are, fish out of water, wild animals in a zoo: and we try to adapt, slowly, painfully. My surprise was that I could do new things and even enjoy a few of them. But the pain in adapting to a life amongst “civilised” people was deep for a year, two years: and it still nags. To be extra-ordinary is a vocation that few share. It just seems a little more normal – we seem a little more normal to ourselves – when we have few neighbours or none at all.

    • Julian,
      Your responses challenge me regularly to confront thoughts and emotions and parts of myself deeper than I am comfortable prying. A splinter left in the flesh will fester and rise to the surface eventually. Yet how much easier it would be to keep these parts of our minds swept simply under the carpet? And how shallow such a life would be. Seems we are driven to choose extra-ordinary, painful and confusing at it is at times

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