It occurred to me today that I have been riding roughshod for quite some time, perhaps much of my lifetime with few interruptions. Even as a child I had an unruly heart and by the time I left home I was wild as the hills. I have never really relinquished that and now, as my age becomes a stronger factor, I am even more inclined to seize the bit and run as I will. In so many ways I have succeeded, alluding only to the necessities of convention but taking to the rougher trails at every chance I find. I have long run with the wolves and even now when the wind rises and the cold currents of winter bring a bite to the air I flee to the forest. I have never been quite tame but rather than settling with age I have regained some vigor and looked for a release.
Roughshod, as with incorrigible, reckless, spontaneous seems to pose some negative connotation, even if they also define freedom and liberty as well, words which so quickly evoke a sense of pride and delight instead. I have always been a free spirit and I suppose I will be an intractable old woman someday because of that. Nobody and no thing has ever convinced me of the merits of acting otherwise and even if there have been times that I have envied those who have settled into a more sedentary existence I have never been content with the same. Instead I thrive on adversity and seek it out in whatever form most pleases me, chopping wood, hauling water and living on the fringe of civilization rather than in the midst of it. I joy in the drives to the woods, the roar of the chainsaw, the crack of the axe against a log as much as I do the armloads of wood I carry inside and the fires I build in my stove. Even tonight with the true winter winds howling at my door I would retreat further into the wilderness if the opportunity presented itself. Give me the challenges of physical survival over the mental stress of conformity anytime, I will not weaken but instead grow strong. It is only in the confinement of convention in which I languish and it has never been clearer than it is now.
There is a great deal of irony in this last statement. It is not that I am unaware of the recent challenges I have imposed on my life but in the midst of such a struggle it is easy to overlook the same. It is far too obvious to address and instead it took my father, who was once so quick to impose the necessity of conformity, to point out the reality to me. He told me, in not so many words, what I realize to be the greatest truth. So often it has been been the times which appeared to pose the greatest struggles in my life, when I lived hand to mouth in an almost literal sense, when the wind and the windmill and the watering of pastures ruled my existence, that I was most content. In pitching my efforts against nature herself and riding roughshod across the hills, making a sparse living on my own talents, I found the greatest happiness. Given a conventional job and good pay, a full forty hour week and a guaranteed income which meets all my needs and I am just as apt to be miserable! Structure, routine and stability have never quite suited me and instead I seek out adversity at the most basic level, I have been hardwired for the same!
There are those of us who are best suited for simple and comfortable lives, and there are those who are not. I was not, it is that simple. I have made every effort to conform at a given moment but it has never worked for me. The question that then arises is this. After a lifetime of bucking the system, and then trying to conform and failing miserably at the same, what is the solution? There is no way to reach that evasive goal of complete freedom without some measure of conformity and yet it is the conformity which shatters the peace which those such as I require. The trick is to never get roped in and I am as guilty as anyone, needing more than wanting some measure of comfort, some partial assurance of a warm dry bed, some sense of stability and a safe haven to retreat to. Having achieved that to such a great degree now I only require some place to sustain it, but that, as with all else, poses yet another challenge. As the years dwindle and the hopes of attaining that goal stretch further and further into the distance I wonder at the worth of the effort. I have yet to weaken but I am weary of the struggle, such as it is.
Give me the wind and the windmill. Give me a saw and a stand of wood, I will make good on all of it. Let me till the soil that I might pull weeds, and then glory in both the harvest and the effort to preserve it, I will gladly stay the course. I worry not about cold or chill, I can carry in my water and build a warm fire, cover the doors and windows and I will be warm. I would retreat to the wilderness and never return if I could only find the path to that sacred place in the forest, it is reaching there which seems to take such an effort. I have been there, but I was forced to return and my heart aches from the distance. I languish amongst luxuries others will never have while I thirst for the simplicity which has defined their lives. Oddly enough I find myself in a community which faces a similar dilemma and yet fails in so many ways to recognize it. On the Indian Reservation all the immediate needs are met but the inertia is deadly. I ride roughshod with the wildest of them, our kindred spirits somehow finding some common ground, but still lacking the answers to our most basic questions. The answer is we both need the sort of challenge which this modern life has all but canceled out, and if we cannot find it neither one of us will survive. Somehow it is a more brutal challenge than anything a natural life could ever present! I will ride roughshod until I find the answer, or else I will likely die trying!