Luxuries Versus Necessities

7.17 Windmill

July 30, 2019

Funny thing, I wrote this piece from this same place two years ago. I left again and came back. Nothing much has changed! I can’t really say that is a bad thing, and I made some progress. It is certainly good to be home! Maybe this time I will stay……………Cathie

July 17, 2017

Nogal House

Vera Cruz, New Mexico


Luxuries Versus Necessities


The conundrum of freedom! Do I delve into the list I prepared last night or do I pause to write? Having just reread a piece I wrote in 2011, some six years ago, I have already spent a good thirty minutes simply pleasing myself. At least I have affirmed that I have been gone from here almost exactly six years, excepting a brief interim of starvation when I returned from Arizona. I faced a similar challenge first thing this morning, after I lit the gas stove. I stepped outside to the early dawn and asked myself if I had better build a cook fire instead. It would take but a moment to do so. There is a plentitude of wood there by the hearth, and it is plenty dry. I need only crumple some paper, build a small stack of sticks and put a match to it. I even have lighter fuel (Boy Scout juice, ha ha), to assure a quick flame.


I should have built the fire, and will restore that practice immediately. It may take more time, and gas is cheap enough, but I need to find my knees there also. It is a practice I have heralded for all the years I have been here, even before I built the hearth but stoked the woodstove instead. The hearth is for the summer fires, and I built it years ago. Propane was a luxury I could not afford at the time and there was no bottle for the stove.


There is never enough reverence in our lives, nor the opportunity to observe it. Fire building is the best. Even in the summer at my outside hearth I chance to pause and consider the wonders of my existence. I have caught the change in the wind, when I might have missed it. What better way to measure the weather than to see how soon the wood will catch or the direction of the smoke? What of the beauty of the sky as the dawn finds the hills? Sitting in the house it is so easy to miss that. When I kneel to build a fire in the winter the return is equal and I will be warmed by the effort soon enough. What can make one more grateful than that, especially on a chill morning when the coals still glow hot and the fire comes with but a moment’s effort?


Need I delineate between luxury and necessity after such a colloquy? Most likely yes. There are those who would question even the logic of taking the time to write with such a list of things to do. They would ask why I would pause to muse when there is so much necessity instead. What that my finances have cratered and I am free to go to work! I should be penning a proposal, not my simple thoughts. I should be networking with Indian Health Services and the New Mexico Environmental Department, foolish girl! Why waste any time at anything else, get on with it! And then you want to build a fire to heat a little water and some tea? What??? It takes twenty minutes to do all that, before the water will be hot, such a waste of time. What can you be thinking?


Time. I have all of it I can ask for right now, even if there is so much to do. I need not leave my house, or my yard, and there is plenty to address. I have a room full of ‘stuff’ I haven’t touched in six years, precious as it is. I need to go through it. Even if I stay it is simply baggage if I am not using it, though the books I will keep. If I decide to stay I will return them to the shelves and reread all of my favorites. I have wood piled up that needs to be cut, split and stacked for the future. I could clean some more of the house, the yard, the sheds……….but at least my living area and the outhouse are done. Hah, what more do I need except that? I am more comfortable when things are in order, and they are not, fully. They are in order enough, and the luxury of being still and tending to my own wants and needs is a pleasure. If I am diligent in the effort I sometimes neglect the finer details. It is those same things which are such a necessity!


This morning I read a piece I wrote a full six years ago today. I had accepted a job in the Grand Canyon National Park. It was that dream job we all speak of and never seem to find, and that it was. I had promised myself before I departed for that empty handed leap of faith that I would first retreat. I ventured deep into the Alamosa Canyon, miles from ‘civilization’. I paused to edit my book and to reflect on the simplest of things, far from the demands of my day to day life. What I found there was good, in the richest sense. My musings reflected that. I then ventured forth on a final, or so I thought, effort to rejoin the formal work force. I returned three months later with less funds than I have now, and sorely disappointed. I soon waded out into the waters again for yet another challenging effort, and stayed the course until now.


Luxury or necessity. It is a luxury to contemplate finding another way to survive aside from a conventional job. Who am I to complain when there are $60,000.00 a year positions I might be qualified for? If they offered me one I would flee, no matter the consequences! Could you, anyone, even just reading these words, envision me in a cubicle in some office in Albuquerque, or even Santa Fe? Yes, no, maybe, sure… too. In time, if I stayed, I would have that same ring of fat around my middle and blank stare of resignation the rest of those folks do, even if there was money in the bank, waiting to be spent. I could have all the luxuries I wanted, simple as my life is, but I would be miserable. If you have read what I have written these past few years there are harbingers of the same, and I was in a far better place than that.


It comes down to necessity, and even now I may well be a martyr. I know what I need and want but I have yet to achieve it. When I am here I am so very close. There is the wood and the fire, the mountains and the sky, the absolute freedom I have always required, and so little means to sustain it! I have bemoaned this same fact for years and have yet to find the means to address it, even after sacrificing six years trying to do the same. When I reread my musings it is the common thread, and redundant. Now I am faced with the reality of my choices and I will once more have to choose. That I am older now is factor as well and if the past I have had only myself to consider, I now have my children’s lives also. If my happiness is the first priority theirs is important also. I never want to be a burden on them and my choices will determine if I succeed!


The necessities come first but the luxury of being able to choose is priceless. I share this with my readers because we all must make these choices. With tomorrow as no guarantee and the years flying by in rapid succession we all have to make the descision, each and every day. If it is challenging enough to take a day for ones’ self, what about a week, a month, or a life time, such as it may be. Who’s to say we even have another year to decide. And what if we don’t? I have a cancer on my nose, what if there is another? If there are questions everyone asks themselves these are likely the first and the foremost, if they are asking at all. I am so fortunate to have the luxury of choice, where for most the ruling force would be necessity!


What will I choose? I have chosen a life that is ruled by necessity. If I want water I must carry it. If I want wood I must cut it and if I want to cook or be warm, for the most part, I must build a fire. I can turn on the gas stove if I am in a hurry, or just lazy, but I will have to buy the gas as well. I have made a lot of money over these last six years, and I spent just as much. I have a few things to show for it, and I am grateful for those, but there is so little else that I need. I got water, ice and groceries yesterday and some gasoline, all for a little more than $100.00. I could close my gate right now and not leave for a week and I’d be fine, less the debts I need to pay. If I had the solar panels I am dreaming of I could go for two weeks, and if I had a garden, even more…..there is canned milk in the cupboard for my tea. I could be building art work and writing while I stayed.


I don’t know what I will choose. I have a skill set that would be a shame to waste, and knowledge I wish to share. I need to write a proposal for Small Water Systems Guidance, and one for some new regulations. These are things which I aspire to pursue before I end my career and involvement with the state. I want to pay my debts, but there is one I owe myself. I will have to find the means to balance them both. I have had six years to consider this and I believe I know the answer. There is a choice in the end and a balance to be achieved. I have already chosen. I will address the necessities and have the luxury of doing it, in the manner which I please.

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