My kids are at the age where they are starting to do their own thing for Christmas so this year my partner and I found ourselves kid free and with the opportunity to create some new holiday traditions. After some consideration we chose solitude — a quiet, cozy, off the grid cabin 50 kilometres from the nearest town.
We arrived on Christmas Eve, snow lightly falling as we wound our way up the narrow roadway, barely enough clearance for our little car. The little cabin, perched on a hill, looking out at pine trees and sage brush as far as the eye could see. Inside was a perfect little cabin, everything one would need all in one small space. We lit a fire, unpacked our things, and settled into a two day holiday in the high desert. With no wifi, T.V., radio, and barely a cell signal we were content to read books, play instruments, cook, build fires. Interspersed with these activities was boredom, blissful peaceful moments of nothingness.
Both the small tasks of cabin life and the moments of nothingness were a healing salve to the stresses of home-life, work, and pre-holiday preparations. Both helped me remember how important it is to create times in our day for stillness, whether it be a short meditation, an afternoon lie-down, quiet undisturbed moments are essential for our body, mind, and soul. Equally important are the tasks we engage in.
I’m always amazed how fulfilling and joyful it is to perform everyday tasks when I am camping or residing in a secluded cabin somewhere. The task of washing dishes, made more fun by the fact that I have to heat water on a wood stove, plan how to wash, rinse and dry everything on a tiny counter top. The everyday task becomes a fun new adventure from start to finish. Similarly tending to the fire — the source of heat for our dwelling — is so much more fulfilling than simply pushing a button on a thermostat back home.
In our urban world we are constantly searching for ways to modernize — to eliminate these daily chores from our lives in order to gain more time. What we forget is how much each of these small tasks provide meaning, creativity, self expression, and wellbeing in our lives. How you feed yourself, care for your body, get yourself to work, is a story about who you are, and the kind of person you wish to be in the world. Somehow in this tiny cabin, in a slowed-down world, I am able to feel and appreciate the significance of each of these everyday tasks and how I go about fulfilling them.
Back home, the journey still fresh, I’m aware of how easy it is to slip back into my old ways — to let the dishes pile up on the counter. But there is also this rekindled desire in me. I want to hold on to these recent discoveries. I want to remember how much pleasure and meaning can come from the everyday, and I want to remember the important of creating moments of stillness. That’s my New Years’ resolution — to remember and be mindful each day. Come join me!