This entry will be rambling, over several days, as I am sitting in my family cabin up near Mount Lassen, in northern California, and I have only slight internet connection, through a tenuous cell phone network. I just landed tonight about an hour ago, opened the cabin, and am relaxing into a solitary weekend. (Some of you know what “opening the cabin” could mean, but it was easy, I was here a few weeks ago and did all the chores 🙂
Five days ago, I was not looking forward to coming up here, even though I knew I need to make the trip. I love this place, and am feeling a little burned out after a couple of months of intense activity at work. But the prospect of a couple of days of isolation was creating anxiety, which I’ve been opening to, meditating on, and holding in my body as consciously as possible. What was the anxiety about being alone? I still don’t fully know, but I know after last night’s sleep and dreams, I woke up this morning looking forward to the trip. Sometimes change is like this, where the reorganization of our consciousness happens at some deep, inaccessible level, and we wake up transformed. That happened today and I feel much happier, being in this beautiful, quiet and still place.
Marian Woodman writes eloquently about this in “Dancing In The Flames” and other books…how staying with a difficult feeling, nurturing it, breathing into it, can allow all that emotional energy to become something else. The actual transformation process is described in almost incomprehensible detail in Carl Jung’s book, “The Mysterium Coniunctionis”, which I read once upon a time and do not recommend.
Now it’s Saturday morning, and I slept almost twelve hours last night. I must have been even more exhausted than I thought. This morning is perfect, no noise except for a few bird songs, temperature 72 degrees. One of my neighbors is here this weekend, in the place across the street, a quiet and introspective woodworker whom I will probably greet sometime today. Otherwise, the neighborhood is vacant.
So the first gift is this feeling of peace and happiness and relaxed attention. No anxiety at all, no urge to connect with anyone. In fact, my cell phone miraculously rang (mobile coverage is VERY spotty) and I actually had no desire to answer it.
The first gift creates a second, spaciousness. I don’t feel like I need to do anything, my driving compulsion is gone, no desire to call my girlfriend, visit neighbors, or mindlessly get things done. Yet I am having a pleasurable and productive day. I’m loving the tasks I’m taking on, and the objects I touch. The cabin is dusted, and I’m delighting in the small details of craftsmanship, the feel of the original growth doug fir used to build it seventy-five years ago. Nancy’s old bicycle has been sitting here for months, waiting to be cleaned and reassembled and oiled, and it’s all complete now, ready for my first bike ride here ever.
And then there are the Advents. Here is a tale of lust going back to my college days. I was too poor to own a stereo, so I spent much of my time visiting friends elsewhere in the dorm to listen to music. The debates about equipment were endless: Dual versus Technics turntables (way before CD’s, of course!), Kenwood versus Pioneer versus Maranz (all trumped by the one guy rich enough to have McIntosh tube equipment). The speaker discussions were especially heated, and one friend had a set of four of the original Large Advent speakers that filled his end of the hall with Pink Floyd in such a decisive way that truce was grudgingly called whenever he cranked it. I’ve always wanted a pair, but somehow never made it happen. I think these antiques have the most natural and spacious sound, a bit warm, just as I prefer.
It so happens that my stepfather, Herb Runyon, who passed away in 2004, had a pair. I remember visiting he and my mother, and playing their records just for the sheer pleasure of hearing the speakers, something that they never did for themselves. When I moved my mom into a nearby townhouse in 2009, I carefully placed these gems into her new space, and she and her caregiver used them all the time, listening to everything from classical and opera, to show tunes and reggae. They went into storage in our garage when she moved to assisted living a year and a half later.
Now I have them up here with me, and I just spent a couple of hours replacing the cracked woofers with new factory originals, sanding the scratches out of the exterior, and rubbing Danish Oil into the fresh wood. They look and smell fantastic. Thank you, Herb, wherever you are, for the pleasure I am about to experience. Ken and Carolyn, the first piece of music to grace them will be yours, it’s been stuck in my head for days. “Solitude”.