“I firmly believe that we all need to find something to do in our lives that stops us from eating the couch.”
― Elizabeth Gilbert, Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear
Rest assured, the couch is safe. For now.
What Ms. Gilbert is referring to in the quote above is how a creative mind that isn’t busy creating will actively seek destruction instead. Like the unemployed border collie she mentions in the aforementioned couch-eating metaphor, those of us with endlessly restless minds will tend to wreak havoc on our environment, others, and ourselves just to have something to do. Most of my adult life up until I gave myself permission to live authentically can be characterized by such cycles of self-sabotage and destruction followed by hopeful rebirth. Falling down just to have a reason to stand up.
“I’m no longer interested in watching you rise from the falls you keep taking in vain just for a reason to stand.”
― Buddy Wakefield,
Lucky for me and my couch (and my life partner and anyone else who has to put up with me), there is no shortage of tasks to occupy my monkey (border collie?) mind these days. The reason I haven’t managed to write anywhere other than in my head for the better part of at least a month is because I have, as some kind of weird insurance against boredom and/or cabin fever in the coming winter months, signed myself up for some extracurricular commitments in addition to the care and feeding of the homestead and myself.
As we tick off the winter preparation musts around the place and bring in and preserve the last of the summer harvest, I’m volunteering time, cooking, and recipe write-ups to the Unity Food Hub, sorting cranberries at a local farm, helping a caregiver friend bring in her cannabis harvest, and playing volleyball forty minutes from home in Belfast. All of this is in the interest of reaching out to and becoming a part of the broader community, as well as diversifying my knowledge and giving me something to write about other than my unending gratitude for having the chance to manifest my dreams in a place that is one big scenic route. No designation needed. Seriously. If there’s an ugly part of Maine, I haven’t seen it yet.
So, while I haven’t been creating in the literary sense, as the trees get more and more bare, our pantry gets more and more full of the fruits of this bountiful region we now call home. I’m creating a food store, community connections, friendships, and a little space for myself to get some exercise and different perspective, a kind of exercise in and of itself. And then there’s all the knitting it was too warm to do, and all the planning for next year’s garden and the beginnings of our ventures into small livestock raising. Not to mention the ongoing projects that will be reconstructing this house and adding outbuildings and landscape infrastructure to the property.
The benefit of having nearly everything you are doing be brand new to you is that it makes you more game to try the unfamiliar and less devastated by failure. Though I am saddened by every preventable loss in the garden and will certainly be worse when it comes to the inevitable loss of the chickens we don’t even have yet, I’m learning to take ego and apprehension out of the equation and just try, try again when my efforts don’t quite pan out as hoped. And Lance and I are both learning that “good enough” is sometimes just fine.
Vegetables and flowers grew. Major hurdles have largely been tackled. We’ll likely survive the notorious Maine winter in our little camp-turned-home, and reasonably comfortably at that. We’re quickly closing in on six months here. And each day that passes, as well as nearly every person we meet, lets us know this is the place our creative minds will be forever soundly occupied with the business of living and cherishing every lovely detail, just the way we hoped they could when we dreamed all this up in the first place.