There’s a sense of beauty, serenity and safety tucked away from the world. Loneliness transforms into independence and I slowly learn how to live with myself as in be with myself, accept who I am and settle into the ways of myself that at one time I believed to be flaws, only later to discover are strengths.
During spring and summer the earth is green, the sky blue and the view of farmlands stretch to the horizon in all directions. Autumn comes and the leaves dance from their branches. They blanket the ground in vast color and crunch beneath my feet. The cold slowly creeps into the night only to emphasize the rejuvenating warmth of the sun during the day. As the cold takes over that warmth so does winter and snow begins to fall.
I had read books such as The Outermost House, written by Henry Beston and Payne Hollow, written by Harlan Hubbard. I dreamed of living this life. A life of solitude, self-sufficiency and free of the daily race and triggered stress. I was never certain I could do it. The unfamiliar is often intimidating and the small town- middle of nowhere culture took a bit of adjusting to.
There’s something to be said about solitude. There’s no concept of time beyond sunrise and sunset. Sleep when you’re tired. Eat when you’re hungry.
My relationship to the news from the outside world feels similar to that of a distant cousin. I read the words on my laptop screen or listen to the voice of the reporter on my AM/FM radio. They’re merely stories. If I can’t touch it I can’t feel it and if I can’t feel it can’t possibly be real.
I’ve read about colonies of people ‘living off the grid’ and stories of ‘minimalist lifestyles.’ Those stories have their charms but solitude has its uniqueness. I have electricity and groceries. I own more than I can fit into a backpack. These things are intended for my survival. I live in abundance in the sense of the gift I am receiving by sitting in front of the fireplace at 2:00 AM writing these words. I live in abundance in the sense that I have roots, I’m grounded and this is my home.
It’s a challenge for me to experience cabin fever. Solitude has done nothing other than enhance my creativity. I may not be earning a six figure income, or a five figure income but I’ve learned along the way that it is possible to live within my means. I’ve made a trade. I’ve let go of the idea that I need money for things I don’t need in exchange for spending my days writing stories, creating art and reading books.
The town I live in is a teeny- tiny town. It was designed to provide basic needs for the surrounding farming communities. There is a library for research, literature and DVDs to check out for movie nights, and a coffee shop for socializing. Those are things I need for survival. They are the places I go to when I leave the house. On weekends I might travel to the city. I have the option to be part of it all or part of nothing.
Stimuli does not equate to life. There’s grass to lay in, flowers to smell and roads to walk. I’ve traded in the stimuli of city life for stimuli of nature, few neighbors and freely inspired creativeness.
I can open my laptop and reach out across the entire world or shut the lid and be left with my thoughts.
I used to live by the notion that a life of solitude spent with a typewriter and a paint brush is an achievement I’d never reach, a reward I’d never earn and while it has come with some sacrifices it’s also come with a hammock to lay in while I read books.
I’m proud to say I live in Iowa, a state that feeds a nation by the hands of generations of hardworking men and women. For me- solitude means less is more, having deep and more meaningful relationships and control over my own life opposed to the American way controlling me. I have a thorough understanding between want and need.
What used to appear as a distant dream in a distant place has now become the reality of a just what I needed lifestyle.
“The burning of the fire- now the blaze increases as the wood is consumed. This is the time of the greatest heat. Then the air begins to chill, we pile on more wood. It’s the rhythm of all things, the rise and fall of the river, the pulse of life. “— Harlan Hubbard, Payne Hollow