I don’t know exactly where it started:
The itch that became a wondering.
The wondering that became a flickering idea.
The flickering idea that sputtered and sparked until it caught, blazing through my life like a wildfire of change.
I’d been scratching at that nagging itch for years, trying to satisfy it with flower beds and backpacking and kayaking and all manner of seeking connection with the natural world. But it seemed a moving target, always just out of reach. And then one day, standing in front of a wide bookcase, staring at a significant collection of books I’d accumulated about solar and wind power and collecting rainwater and foraging for wild food and organic gardening and building twig furniture and making dyes from plants and constructing decks and cabins and cob houses…and I asked myself:
Why am I just reading about all of this? Why aren’t I living it?
I took a long, deep breath. Why, I wondered, did I spend so much time dreaming about things and so little time actually doing them?
Oh, it’s not that I don’t do stuff. I’ve hiked and backpacked and camped — often solo — in the Badlands of South Dakota, the Canyonlands of Utah, through the sequoias of northern California, on the lakeshores and prairies of Minnesota, in the mountains of Colorado, and across the diverse ecosystems of Washington state. I bought my own house and lived alone in it for years. I jumped the corporate ship and landed safely — albeit somewhat shakily — on the deck of my very own freelancing business. Yes, I’ve taken myself on adventures, some of them scary, but I always seemed to return to my safe, convenient life in the city. And, try as I might, I could never quite put down roots.
My roots still felt like they were sunk deep in the soil of my rural childhood. I looked at that shelf of books and saw fallow dreams, forgotten values. I calculated my finances (woefully lacking), took stock of my health (fraying at the edges), and considered my career opportunities (fading with age), and decided the hell with it.
If I don’t do something now, I’ll never do it. I’d stalled long enough.
Without pausing to think, I started striding down the path to a new way of living. I knew it would test my mettle, my courage, and my determination. The books on the shelf were a mere outline, not a plan. I’d plan as I went, I decided. I’d remain open and flexible. I’d follow my intuition.
To where, I had no idea.
But suddenly I was purging possessions, selling my house, and searching for a slice of rural mountain property on which to put down my roots.
This post originally appeared on my creative writing blog, Small Conceits. Because my journey to what will become my mountain home involves a different kind of storytelling, I’ve moved these posts here to retain and extend the narrative without muddying the waters on Small Conceits.