It is hard to believe, as I sit here writing this, that nearly six weeks have passed since I first arrived in California. Six weeks of living in a teepee. Six weeks of ants, tired feet, heat, endless cars, bemused looks (“You mean you live in a teepee?“), gaping heart-voids and unexpected kindnesses. An entire world is contained within those weeks.
It was the longest, loneliest, most disorienting six weeks of my life. Most of it is a blur. And yet here we are. Tomorrow, I return to Portland one last time. The moving truck will already be loaded. The apartment will be cleaned, the keys handed in. And we will finally – finally - drive back together to begin a new life.
Awhile back, I began keeping a list of things I’d learned from this experience of living in a teepee, alone and without a car in suburban, car-dependent California. It seems appropriate to share it.
Lessons I’ve Learned from Six Weeks in a Teepee
- The ants will always outnumber you. Don’t fight them; learn to live with them (and don’t leave uneaten food out for more than a few minutes).
- Balance sometimes resides within extremes, not between them.
- There’s nothing quite like falling asleep to the sound of crickets.
- There’s nothing quite like waking up to the fresh morning air.
- You don’t realize how much trash you generate until it becomes an effort to dispose of it.
- Eccentricity is highly contextual.
- Patience is irrelevant. Time passes, with or without it.
- Patience makes the present more enjoyable.
- The night is not quiet; it’s teeming with life.
- There is something grounding about putting your bare feet onto the bare earth.
- Make your bed every morning. You’ll be glad you did in the evening.
- Savor the good days; let the hard ones make you strong, and then let them go.
- Spider bites really suck. But you’ll survive, and you probably won’t even need medical attention.
- Perspective is everything.
- Take care of yourself and be kind. You’ll be amazed what a difference those two things make.
- When you want most to withdraw from the world, that is when you most need human kindness and connection.
- Deliberately stepping out of your comfort zone is one of the most liberating things you can do.
- Like most things in life worth doing, if you knew in advance how hard it would be, you probably wouldn’t have had the guts to do it.
Thanks for being here with me on this little (big) journey. It means something, somehow, that you would take this time and dwell with me here digitally. It reminds me that even and perhaps especially in this noisy, distracted world, we can still take time. We can still listen, give, attend. There may be hope for us yet.