Thirty-one days into the new year and most resolutions have already flown out the window. I’m not really one to make resolutions, but I am one to hold myself to high expectations of achieving. Something. My quandary over the word ‘resolute’ in light of time’s passing, i.e. the new year, has me further reflecting on my decision to achieve in this relatively new off-grid lifestyle. Or more to the point, succeeding at life in general.
According to my dictionary.com app, words like ‘bold,’ ‘courageous,’ and ‘firm’ are acceptably interchangeable for resolute, and actually lead me to further puzzle over my standing in relation the goals I set for myself and the actions I take thereafter. These days, to be honest, I’m not apt to describe myself with any of the aforementioned synonyms. I’ll explain…
This time last year, in 2017, we were finding ways to survive the elements in our newly established Valhalla. It was easy to thoroughly embrace our situation because of its newness, and because we asked for it. Undaunted by challenges and inspired by fresh discoveries of my own abilities, I could easily say I was resolute, determined, and steadfast to find success in my new environment.
After a turn of deeply personal events mid-year, my intrepid and purposeful pursuits were no longer so. It was very hard to be settled and unflagging in the path I chose. Even in the activities I undertook to connect with my familiar passions, I found myself to feel dull, shaken, weak, and very, very far from resolute. To be honest, I wished from the darkest pit of my soul that I would be committed to a padded room where I could simply deconstruct, melt down, and in no way be related to the world around me and, most importantly, the reminders that I am not achieving. Anything.
As you can see looking back at the blog history, we kind of went AWOL after a consistent run of sharing our follies and adventures here at Sahalee. For weeks after we buried Jack, I had a hard time leaving the soft cocooning and comforting embrace of my bed with little ability to form complete sentences. My daily to-do list at that time consisted of only one thing: brush my teeth. It was truly all I could manage after such a sudden and devastating loss, mostly because I had come crashing down from the ultimate high on life- bearing witness to the cosmic happening of summer solstice at Chaco Canyon with my loved ones (a topic for posting another time).
It took every minutia of damaged will I could muster from what I had left to follow-through on what I expected for myself- my plans to achieve. Forget being resolute. Just be. So, I did what I know best… I spent the next 3 months student teaching at the high school.
Camping Gear & Food
There’s no better way to explore the great outdoors than by packing up a backpack and hitting your local hiking trail.
Carry enough food and water to see yourself through the entire trip.
I threw myself into my work, planning lessons and bombarding my students with other peoples’ survival stories from beyond the classroom walls. I found a way to make the standard curriculum of ‘Beowulf‘ relevant to life and challenged students to identify their own personal demons that stifle their true ambitions. I introduced them to the ‘Overview Effect,’ and encouraged them to visualize the Earth from beyond our fragile atmosphere and use language to describe their place in the world. Everyday at school, I masked any personal misgivings with humor, music, and podcasts. I went there to BE there.
Eventually, I was able to share intimate details of my personal trials (like almost not graduating from high school), and I acknowledged their own efforts to just show up despite their hardships. (Our school‘s population is 90% indigenous with many students having to overcome language and cultural barriers, and traveling hours each day from poor reservation conditions to attend.) In return, these brilliant young people let me in to their lives and imparted with me their own struggles of caring for their elders or their infants, pressure to attend college, and pursuing an education despite drugs and disabilities. They wrapped me in a different sort of cocoon, and I emerged truly anew with a sense of purpose you could only describe as resolute.
Coming in to the holidays, I had a new lease on life. I was inspired to chase ‘success’ once again. We had already started to outline the new year ahead with projects on the homestead (finishing off the big deck with stairs and railing, mounting solar panels, installing water catchment) and other achievements to behold (hiking and volunteering to work on the nearby Continental Divide Trail). We had the car packed for our much anticipated Christmas road trip to visit Ben’s family in Colorado when my spry and super-fit father – with whom my sun has always risen and set – called from a hospital in Florida to say he was on the way to the operating room for a quadruple coronary arterial bypass graft, or CABG. I had no legs to stand on.
This was not the first time we spent the holidays in a hospital, but it was no less soul-crushing. I went numb, to say the least. I was there with my dad in the physical sense to help him through, but I distanced myself emotionally and mentally. My thoughts and feelings were just a swirl of nonsense that often left me listing with a blank stare and mumbled words. For the very first time, I saw my strong and stable daddy weep in terror and wish for death on his own terms. What is this life? I asked.
How do you make resolutions and live with the consequences? If you succeed, what lies in wait to break it all back down? If you fail, then why try in the first place?
For this reason I write today. I can’t guarantee you’ll have gobs of fresh content to read from us on a regular basis, nor can I promise you loads of new pretty how-to’s or product reviews. You are here for your own reasons, and we are for ours. Am I resolute to tell the Sahalee Off Grid story to include both the highs and the lows? I’ll talk to whomever asks to listen as the occasion presents itself. And, so, we are here today…
To keep you appeased with real-time happenings and high-value resources, may we direct you to our new wildly popular Facebook group, So You Wanna Be An Off-Gridder. You’ll see more from us there, as well as a wealth of other off-grid photos and life-in-general commentary from thousands of other like-minded contributors.
I must say that if you’ve read through this long, you have the power to do ANYTHING!! 😉 As a reward for your doggedness, here’s a little off-grid folly and advice for your reading pleasure…
This week, we awoke to a squealing chirp and robotic voice repeating, “WARNING: CARBON MONOXIDE” just after midnight. This happened shortly after we finally dozed off under the ultra bright light of the impending Super Blue Blood Moon streaming through the tono. This is the second time that this unassuming little disc has alerted us to imminent danger while living in the yurt with wood stove heating, and we are thankful for it. While we are much better now at keeping the stovepipe clean than we were our first winter, there is always potential for a problematic downdraft. After 30 minutes of airing out the yurt and refreshing the alarm sensor amid the powerful moonlight, we settled back in for a toasty warm slumber. We couldn’t imagine living life any other way. How are your smoke detectors working?
To the moon…
Well not much of a view with the #iPhone but it was amazing when viewed in realtime with the #eyes make sure to swipe right for the worst image of the blood moon you will see today! looking for better pictures from us? Send me a message I will tell you where to send donations for a new #camera #supermoon #bluemoon #bloodmoon #thealarmwasworthit
“Don’t tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass.”
― Anton Chekhov