Get out every moment you can.
We so often get swept in the tow of busyness, of plans and tasks, meetings and chores; all between flurries of text messages and e-mails we somehow never find the time to respond to. Modern life is spent inside of screens. And while the world that exists within screens is large and abundant, without trees and isolation, you lose mystery.
For me, there’s nothing that I look forward to more than locking away my computer for the weekend to spend a night in the mountains. There’s nothing that excites me more than a long drive out of town after the sun has set, snaking down state highways and eating a gas station dinner, while folks in the city are ordering their Ubers, lapping up microbrews, and having bad Tinder dates.
In the woods, I find much needed oxygen. On mountains, composure. And with friends who share the same love, levity.
A trip that I took with two of my friends—sisters, Tally and Tressa—out to a lone cabin in the Umpqua was one of those experiences I kept thinking about after. Not because it was a big adventure, but because it was the opposite.
The cabin was anchored deep within a forested trove of firs, hemlock, and foothills. Quiet, alone, a dry place to sleep.
The first day we meandered a steep grade up Bohemia Mountain, where I wordlessly mulled over the ghost town below - a former gold mining development that was home to saloons, hotels, and family cottages in the mid-1800s. Across the way, perched on a rugged summit overlooking the Cascade range, was a fire lookout. When we approached its 5000 foot viewpoint, the winds picked up and blew straight into our ears. Young droplets splashed our coats and the clouds were moving westward and I liked that I was away from home.
That night we made use of our books, wine, and heavy sweaters. We cooked vegetable soup on a rustic wood stove and fell asleep to gushes of rain hitting timber. Twice I woke in the middle of the night to use the bathroom outside, and under the cover of a late night mist, I slid my bare feet into my boots and carefully tread the mushy soil that spurted outwards at me with each step.
We didn’t get up until well past the first light of dawn, so fitful was our sleep, and slowly we got to making the first pot of coffee and throwing our breakfast on the stove. Sometimes there’s really nothing better than the sound of eggs crackling in cast iron, the smell of sausage cooking in oil, or a breakfast made inside of a log cabin. These are the appreciations you miss in the thick of city life.
Get out every moment you can, I say.
In a time defined by information, knowledge, speed, and the need for certainty, we’ve lost the feeling of mystery—the mystery of why certain things feel the way they do for us. Why the small things like rain and wind and hot soup can be so powerful. When distractions don't arrive swiftly at your fingertips, mystery is an invitation to search slowly for meaning, to wonder and observe.
- Charley Zheng