Living Outside the Lines


December 16, 2017

Camped Out/Greasewood Drive

East of Monticello, New Mexico


Living Outside the Lines


I am living outside of the lines, camped in the desert and reluctant to return to town. The thought of any sort of civilization is unwarranted here, though I will eventually go back. If I am well prepared for the basics I have a few more improvements to make. Mostly it was poor planning on my part. If I had every intention to camp out and even spend a few days in the wilderness I neglected the most basic requirements. What that I have been spoiled at the Trading Post, sharing the kitchen and the shower, I might still have thought ahead. Instead I stopped in Nogal, off loaded all but my basic necessities, and hurried along my way. Now, having decided to camp for a day or two, I see what I have missed.


I might have brought another cooler and some food, so simple in the end! I also needed my solar phone battery, but again I forgot. Most of all I need a means to charge my laptop, which has now reached the top of the list. I can so easily slip off onto the wilderness but defeat my purpose if I cannot write. That and a gas stove, the basic wish list I have had from the start, now nearing necessity if I am to continue on my quest. If I am to truly live outside the lines I will do so on my terms, as I always have. I have yet to find a good reason to do otherwise and this place lends itself to that choice. That the dirt roads are familiar, even in the darkness, makes it a simple place to retreat to. I will return again tonight unless something better offers itself, which seems so unlikely at best.


Outside the lines, just where I am. I left Truth or Consequences last night and had dinner in Elephant Butte, with the old folks. There is a great buffet there which draws all of the locals, and I too have chosen to return there. The food is fresh and nourishing, and also well prepared. I ate my fill and departed, considering another evening on the town but opting for the solitude instead. There will be plenty of opportunity to mingle with the locals, and the night was already getting cold. There is a brewery which I visited on my last trip here and I had hoped to rub shoulders there again, but it will have to wait. The allure of solitude, the thought of a warm fire and a good night’s rest rose quickly to the fore.


Leaving town I drove west, watching the roadside for other dirt roads, but finding none to my liking. The road signs pointed to the airport and I25, familiar markers from the past many trips I have made here. Crossing under the highway Route 181 turned towards Cuchillo, just miles to the west. I considered it also but the place I might have gone was by a cemetery and the old house there seems haunted, so I passed. If I am in need of solitude and respite, such a place is not ideal. Even if it deserves further exploration that is best done in the daytime! Instead I swung north on the road to Monticello and then slipped back to the west on a dirt track that crosses to Highway 52. Finding a lesser road into the greasewood spotted desert I drove a ways before I pulled off and parked.


The first order when one camps anywhere is to close the curtains to block the light. In rapid succession is to build a fire, though the heater on the bus warms it well. I left the engine to idle to use the heat and the light and soon had water warming on the stove. Then I ventured back outside into the brilliant star lit night. As I so often find, once I have braved the cold for the moment, it becomes the least of my worries. Finding the ground scattered with the ancient roots of long dead greasewood bushes I quickly gathered some wood, and then went back for more. If I have carried a supply with me, what little I have is precious and best replenished when possible. That the roots burn hot and make good coals is also a plus. I kicked around a bit and then sat on the step of my bus to admire the evening. It was only then that the silence and the solitude became complete and surrounded me so quickly. I breathed in the stillness.


If I have always been a solitary person I have denied myself so much of the same! It is only in returning here, to the place where that solitude became perfected, that I recall the necessity of it! If I thought I would miss the camaraderie of Three Rivers, I do, but the solitude is just as welcome, and necessary also. It is only here that I can reach deep into my soul and find that which remains buried so much of the time. In this place she can arise and blossom, unfettered and unafraid! The freedom is in immediate reach here and never more than minutes away. I have thought to return for that very reason. I am here now, hoping I might stay.


I am in no hurry today and have no plans to meet. I discovered a part of myself that I have missed, standing alone in the starlight. I need to go visit with her today and rather than break camp I will walk from here, at least for a while. The canyons are close but the high mesa suits my needs. I need to see the mountains in the distance and feel the breeze as it caresses my face and lifts my hair. I have no need for anything else! If my list of things I’d like to have is short my own personal is shorter, and far simpler. I want only to replenish my peace of mind and serenity. It is in as easy reach as all the others, and in this instance, right outside my door. Just kicking the dried roots from the sand was almost enough, but I will wander further also.


It is the absence of boundaries here which appeals to me the most. The cattle wander unfettered and could walk for miles without fences. I feel much of the same, with the press of humanity miles away and no visual evidence of their presence, less the dirt two track and some tire tracks in the dust. The most recent are my own, and will likely remain that way unless someone checks the cows. I will likely follow those same tracks back off to the north just for safety, rather than walk across the sand. If my sense of direction is good I need not trouble myself with the effort of tracking it. Instead I will allow my thoughts to wander and give them the freedom to do so. I learned many years ago, in this very place, the joys and the comforts of that practice. Nothing of the present will change in my absence but my mind will fill with the joy of forgetfulness for as long as I allow it.


When I return it will begin where I left off. In considering that statement it becomes the definition of simplicity, all outside the lines. If I so often wander about the maze of my life, albeit less than most people, when I step away it becomes clear lines. Here, whether I walk out across the desert or follow a familiar track, there is nothing else to distract me. I have the endless sky above and the mountains in the distance, all of such comfort to a woman such as I. There is even little desire to share it, the solitude is too complete for even that. With a like-minded other perhaps, but they are few and far between and a human voice would break the silence. I am content to be alone. The weight of the stillness astounded me last night, having retreated fully to its realm in the darkness. If I take pause each evening, no matter where I am, to acknowledge the same, it is never so complete. One can only find it when they live outside the lines………..

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