Day Fifty Seven 2017 Survival Skills
February 26, 2017
Vera Cruz, New Mexico
Day Fifty Seven 2017 Survival Skills
Zora Neale Hurston’s opening line for the book, “Their Eyes Were Watching God” says, “Women forget all the things they don’t want to remember, and remember the things they don’t want to forget. The dream is the truth. Then they act and do things accordingly”.
There are things I choose not to remember, though my sister will offer to remind me of the same. Her memories are much different from mine, but I have no doubt we are both correct. There are also things which I hope to never forget and those fall under what I call my survival skills. These are the things I identified in my youth which I deemed critical to my ability to navigate the waters of this life, and again, I am quite certain I was right. These promises I made to myself have been my means of direction and have guided my life’s choices from the time I sat on the banks of Lake Welch as a young and innocent child.
It is these same promises that set my feet to the highway before I ever left home, practicing a skill which would ultimately carry me thousands of miles into the world of my life. I hitchhiked as much out of necessity as for the desire for adventure. I flew from one end of the county to another, and then the 120 miles from college and finally across the country itself for nearly eight years of travel. I sought and found the adventures and the people I had searched for. I grew to be strong, and wise to the ways of the road, and to life itself. And I learned the survival skills which have aided me for my lifetime.
There was something I discovered on the road which I might have otherwise overlooked. If I have always been a solitary person I have learned many lessons from others also. Traveling the highways offers a unique perspective as the meetings are all in passing. Whereas most people are cautious with what they reveal to others their tongues come loose to the traveler, especially if she shares her story first. Suddenly they are free to tell things they might never otherwise divulge to even their friends, knowing they will never meet you again. So I learned something.
If we never listen to other people’s deepest thoughts we too often go through this life believing we are the only ones faced with crisis or challenge, even if the evidence of the same surrounds us. Somehow we believe we are the only ones who suffer deeply or wish for other things. How I learned different and the stories I heard from the many people I met influenced everything I have done since. Who didn’t have a dream and how many of them envied my freedom, even if they would never admit it to anyone else? It was as much their desires as my own that led me to the years of adventure I embarked on. If I had not conceived my eldest son I might have never settled down……..
Survival skills. I sit beside the wood stove and listen to the wind. There is no draft for the moment though if it shifts I will know. The generator hums in the shed and there is ample wood piled in the yard. I will need to leave today but I will stay as long as I can, I have no desire to depart. If there are those who quip about my living in a bus they should see this house! As my friend Colin would say, this is ‘Shackdom’ at its best! I have even patched the leak in the east wall though the ceiling still shows the repairs from the past. If it were my own I would repair it better but the future is uncertain as ever. If I am fortunate I should not have to worry about it either, but I’ve yet to be assured. For now this is my only retreat and it is as essential as anything else to my survival.
How so? I had a friend ask me not long ago why I don’t have running water in my bus, or at least a booster pump and a shower. It would be quite simple really, and I have considered it, but never followed through. Instead I still carry water inside, as I do here, and heat it on the woodstove in the winter, though I have gas for the warmer months also. The woodstoves in both my dwellings keep me warm through the winter and I love to cut wood. What better way to spend an afternoon but to be out in the field somewhere filling my truck with those stores? The reward is immediate and lasting as well, I am never cold for long and the cost is minimal also. Twenty pounds of propane lasts me for months!
My survival depends on being grounded, and the means to maintain that. I need the reward of the fruits of my labor before I require wealth! I would that every aspect of my life would depend on my own efforts towards my needs than to serve for someone else’s. For this reason I keep it simple and when I kneel before the fire, woodstove or hearth, as I am apt to do come summer, I say thanks with every breath. The clack of the sticks of wood as they strike each other is as joyful as the splash of water in a bucket, and I need so little else. The feel of the dirt beneath my knees and in my hands makes it complete and the garden offers more sustenance than any grocery ever provided. I am reminded of this each time I return here, and it fills my every need.
Survival skills. I made my retreat five days ago and I have spent as much time here reflecting on the same as I have at anything else. I have reflected deeply on my greatest needs, fed the fire and put my hands to my art as I haven’t done in weeks, and written more as well. I could stay here forever and never run out of things to do, if I had the chance to do so! I wish that I could, but now is not the time. Still yet, I have reaffirmed the goals and the ethics I have lived by all my life and find them good! It is the utter simplicity I have chosen which has served me so well and I have never forgotten that. If I have drifted from them on too many occasions, I always return. This place always offers the affirmation of the same.
I learned a valuable lesson all those years ago when I perused the life before me and the way I wished to live. I read stories of the past and I considered my future. I stepped out on the highway, fearless in some ways and most frightened in others, more so by what I knew than of the unknown, and I proved myself right. There are things I do not want to remember; the looming threat of the city, the confines of the life it reflected towards me. The hurried crowds and the rules and regulations they required. I wanted a simple, solitary life where my choices were my own, and I found it along the way. It was an essential factor to my survival and I have never, ever, forgotten that! I am so lucky I have not! Those survival skills have served me well, I am still so very much alive!