Making a big change in your life can be unsettling. For some of us, it can even be so disorienting that it triggers a depression. I hope and trust that will not happen to me, this time.
If you decide for a big change wisely, in a well-considered way, it can also have huge advantages. To name just two: (1) it can strengthen your feeling of being free and in control of your own life again; and (2) it can be a great occasion to reflect, to take a brief pause reassessing both your past and your plans for the future.
During the coming days I will be moving, bit-by-bit, to a new home not far from where I live now. It’s a primitive old wooden cabin – complete with wood stove – hidden between trees and shrubs. Romantic. In some respects, back-to-basics. And hard to find, too! But of course I do not intend to become a weird and completely isolated hermit like Ted Kaczynski did in his Montana cabin (see footnote). In fact, driving to the nearest town will take me less than ten minutes.
Yesterday I sat for the first time in my new yard. I took this photo:
Although we’re still waiting for really fine spring weather, the first mosquitoes and flies and honeybees were already buzzing around in this overgrown garden. While quietly sitting there, I suddenly had a strange experience: I felt like one of those buzzing insects. A living being just like them: part of the same natural order, belonging. I felt a direct connection with everything around me.
No doubt in the next weeks, after moving in, I’ll become more realistic again, taking some measures against nature encroaching too much on me. If I don’t want my place to get overgrown completely I’ll have to do some frequent clipping and weeding; I’ll install some anti-mosquito curtains for my door and windows; and I plan to find myself a fierce cat that hopefully will keep out mice and rats.
Still, that moment of “feeling one with the bees” was too valuable to forget. I think the essence of that feeling was the awareness that nature as a whole is so much bigger and more permanent than us small living beings. The awareness that we all, whether we are a honeybee or a human being, are both a natural part of that whole picture, and a temporary part of it.
We humans last for longer than those mosquitoes; but the trees will outlast us. And a hundred years from now the world will still be green (I hope) but the very same picture will be filled with other shrubs, fresh flowers, other bees, other rabbits, hares and birds, and other people. Hills and fields will probably look very much the same, and maybe your present house will still stand, but someone else will be living in it.
What this means is that we, just like that honeybee, should take full advantage of the brief span of time that is allotted to us. And enjoy it, as intensely and actively as we can.
Life is short: all the more reason to get a grip on it. Don’t let depression steal your limited, precious time.
Enough philosophy for today –
Now for a practical point!
According to my internet provider, it will take them at least until May 25th before they can get me a working online connection at my new place.
Of course I’ll try to find some temporary solutions, but combined with the actual chores of moving, this means that for the next two weeks I may not be able to update this site with the normal frequency.
I hope that by June 1st, everything here at StayOnTop will be back to normal again.
• footnote: The notorious anarchist “Unabomber” Ted Kaczynski gave up his university job and moved to a remote cabin in the wilderness, cutting all ties with society, living alone in complete isolation without electricity or even a water tap. And more important, without seeing anyone.
From there, between 1978-1995 he mailed his bomb packages to people whom he believed represented all the evils of modern industrial civilization.
You must be mad to bomb people, but also mad to opt for that kind of extreme isolation. I’m convinced that in turn, this self-chosen isolation made him even more crazy than he already was.