Saturday, February 25, 2012
It is strange being so isolated from the world around me. While biking, I was passing through towns and cities, sometimes a dozen a day, taking in billboards and bus advertisements, passing TVs in bars and retail stores, chatting with people plugged into an ever more electronically connected world. I am now living in a camp in the woods, which I have left only a handful of times in 2 weeks, and even then, only to purchase essentials or hang out in some other remote, isolated place. More than 50% of Americans now live in cities, and this number is predicted only to rise.
There is a line somewhere between isolation and overpopulation, and I haven't quite figured out my place on that spectrum. The times when I've felt most like I belonged somewhere, it had almost entirely to do with the people I've been with, and not necessarily with the place. I like a tight knit social community, accessible when necessary, but not always sharing the same space. I did not expect to feel as anxious as I do when I am alone here. I like being alone outside, but not inside. Instead of feeling at peace, and one with the world as I do when I'm camping, I instead feel trapped and disconnected and shut off from what is going on elsewhere. I'm getting a bit of cabin fever with the cold weather too, due to the fact that I have to keep my windows and door shut most of the time to keep the heat in.
My room has blank walls. I am the only one of my colleagues who arrived without a car, and thus, without things to hang on the walls of my room. I'm not particularly interested in buying things to hang on my wall, either. I should, instead, make some art. Make the inside look more like the outside.
Training for Mountain Trail Outdoor School officially ended today, and we welcome our first group of children tomorrow. For the end of training, we went on a staff “expedition,” which usually means backpacking in the woods somewhere for a couple of days, but we got a more cushy experience. To cover the last few serious topics, to bond as staff and to have a fun learning experience, we went to a camp outside of Charleston, SC. From there, we took a bicycle tour around Kiawah Island with a very knowledgeable naturalist, visited 2 nature centers and a tiny aquarium, and went sea kayaking to another barrier island scattered with countless seashells. Highlights included holding 2 young alligators at the nature centers, watching dolphins play in the surf less than 20 feet away from us, and hanging out on the beach with a wonderful group of co-workers.
In the last couple of weeks, I have had a chance to ride almost all of the trails around camp on my mountain bike (there are about 20 miles of trails total), practice archery with my co-workers, and we have started training for the Warrior Dash by doing hang-board workouts on the porch of our house. I also attended my first contra dance, which was an amazingly fun, sweaty and fabulous experience.