Being in the city has a way of eating that life energy you’ve been working so hard to cultivate out of you, taking little bites though you hardly notice until you return home. Back at the cabin I felt I’d been gnawed at, like a dog’s bone. Not having seen anyone for seven days before heading to Vancouver for the weekend, I felt something akin to culture shock upon returning home. I went to the city to be amused.
My weekend ended Tuesday and it was on Tuesday that I decided the city would no longer be my playground; it disrupts my routine and that disrupts me. Of course I will go there again, just not in search of amusement. I’ll need to develop a way to carry my routine with me, a prêt à porter routine. Tuesday morning I awoke feeling the desire to stay another day. There was an underlying sense of dread as if I were afraid to return to my solitude.
“Yes, please. I’ll need sustenance for my day of travel.”
“No. Um, yes. Just a little, one piece.”
“One egg or two?”
I eat an egg almost every day, and so (I discovered today) does Italy’s oldest living woman, Emma Morano. Actually, she eats two eggs a day. At 118, she still lives independently, isn’t married, and has no children. Seems ole Emma and I have a few things in common.
On the way to the ferry, listening to the radio, I heard that the average American attention span has fallen by four seconds to eight seconds. That is only one second less than the attention span of a goldfish. I guess the joke about having the attention span of a goldfish is no longer funny. It’s disturbing. How does one read a book? One doesn’t. A person cannot be truly happy if he is constantly search for amusement, afraid of being bored, afraid of his own mind.
In nature, finding happiness is simple: the sound of a frog, the wind, the teeny little birds fluttering from tree to tree. You just have to be still and let the sense of “being” or “aliveness” fill you. In the city, happiness is more elusive; and without awareness the search for it can be damaging. The city bombards you with its idea of happiness, but its happiness comes at a cost. Having limited distractions here at the cabin encourages longer periods of silence, creating necessary space between thoughts. Four days in the city has the opposite effect and that space I’d opened up clutters quickly.
Happiness comes from within, at least real happiness does.
I trudged the long gravel road from the bus stop to home, my bags weighing me down, and the negativity chattering on. At the end of this road is a long driveway that veers off to the right, following it for about 200 metres brings you to my cabin. Before heading down my driveway, I stopped at a small farm. At the edge of its driveway is a sign that reads “EGGS” with an arrow. I have followed that arrow on at least five occasions. It leads to an old fridge, the roundish kind with the pull-down handle. At the fridge, there is another “EGGS” sign with an arrow pointing down toward the fridge. Each time I’ve opened the door, I’ve been confronted with another sign: “Come Back Tomorrow.” Today, however, the sign inside the fridge was covered by six cartons of farm fresh eggs. I could hear the distant clucking of hens as I slid my $5.00 bill through the slot in the plastic bucket with the “$5” written on it. I took a carton from the bottom layer—in case they were fresher (how much fresher do I want my eggs??). Things were looking up. I was happy to have eggs–eggs from happy chickens. These were pasture-raised chickens meaning they’re free to frolic and forage to their hearts’ content, soaking up the sun’s rays while hunting for insects and worms. Did you know the eggs from pasture-raised chickens have less fat and cholesterol and more vitamins, Omega 3 and protein than other eggs?
As I headed down my driveway, shoulders buried in straps, I noticed the addition of the eggs seemed to have lightened my load. Eggs are a symbol of rebirth. Returning home with my eggs, I thought my spirit could use a little “rebirth.”
Not in the mood to write any of this, I sulked around the cabin for the rest of the day attempting to comfort myself with food. I finally gave up, took my laptop with its Netflix account and went to bed. My soul felt emptied. Waking on Wednesday, I still felt out of synch. I couldn’t shake the feeling, couldn’t get back into the flow of cabin life. I knew the answer. I got dressed and headed off on my wooded pilgrimage. The giant spruces and cedars worked their magic, my soul was replenishing with each step. It didn’t take long before I was cleansed of my negativity, my cynicism, and the looming regret of having wasted time.
The bear was free to roam the forest, and I was finally free to find the art of Tuesday.