These are days of preparations. Of sortings and imaginings and mundane seeming necessities and small purchases and payments and fulfilling obligations. These are days not long remembered, but they call ahead to others. These days of preparation are days placed in cities, nearby refills, washers and replacements. They are the servants of the days they realize, in farther, wilder places. The city’s preparations are tangible and evident in each small object lined up at attention before the journey, in each text and tool and means. In eagerness, their necessity is bemoaned but never doubted.
The city came as a complete shock. There was nothing, in the roughness and stillness of three weeks of woods and waterways, that prepared me for such cross purposes as the city, even small community, presented. How would it feel for the wilderness to be a preparation in equal measure? That almost asks too much.
One day I cycled 100 miles through the mountains to Vermont and lived by Lake Willoughby for one week all alone, in a little private space. I wondered if it was neglectful to not see being away as a preparation for re-entry. Away from what? I feel at times that I want a small life, an unpublic life, a life where all of my outputs, of every sort, are accounted for. I think I come from people who try to make sense of large things, who comprehend their meaning and place and service within a wide society, where the public is a calling. I want to live close to water, mountains, and animals, and do things that I consider to be service happily and frequently. I want to exchange skills and make things regularly, to build fires, and to easily forget to shower. I want each object that I use to be multi-purposed, re-purposed, sturdy. I want to live with hopeful people who are physically strong of their own creation. I want to read books and to admire how words make one place into many. Can a private, wild life be an impactful life?
This is a blunt prod:
‘Why not stay out there in the wilderness the rest of your days? Because that's not where men are. The final test for me of the legitimacy of the experience is “How well does your experience of the sacred in nature enable you to cope more effectively with the problems of mankind when you come back to the city?”’ – Willi Unsoeld