Thankful at 13 degrees

While shoveling I felt weirdly peaceful knowing I no longer have anything in this cabin worth stealing. The most valuable thing was the security equipment that was stolen… I think this is a great lesson in both how real life is in Alaska sometimes and how freeing minimalism can be.

170222  Today was a day of days.  I taught 2nd grade all day in Fairbanks, then I threw a bunch of stuff in my car trying to catch every microsecond of light I could for the 2 hour drive ahead of me in snow flurry filled conditions.  I have no idea where to begin the thanksfuls for this day, so I’m just going to begin at the start of my car trip.  Thankful that the library in Fairbanks opts not to fine people for late books, they will simply charge you for it if it’s a month or two past due, and if you bring it back you get your money back. So I didn’t have to detour to the other side of town to return my items due today.  I was also thankful that the flurries subsided around the same time the traffic died down about 1/3rd of the way to my cabin.  I arrived just as the darkness began to overtake the sky and didn’t have to decipher the road or ditches so hard for those tanks we call moose.

I arrived to my cabin in late Feb for the first time since just after Christmas, and I had that knowing feeling when I saw the drive buried in over a foot of snow and a set of tracks from the end of the driveway to the house.  Without walking on them I followed them all around the house, leaving me to wade through foot and a half deep snow and find my back door broken open.  I went in and found the only thing that appeared missing was the game cam that was for tracking intruders…apparently not well hidden enough.  I gathered myself and went back to the car the only spot of warmth around where I could collect my thoughts for a moment and quit moving.  Thankful that the weather was over 10 degrees and the car was still warm now that my jeans were soaked and cold.  This one is so big I can’t even say.  If the weather had been even -20 which is an easy possibility any winter day here, then every thing after this point would be 3 times harder with 4 times more stress factor.  You can’t mess around with your core warmth when you are arriving to a cold cabin.  I was so thankful for my trusty Blaze King stove and kindling that was quick to light.

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Though it would be a few hours before I couldn’t see my breath inside, it went right to work.  Then I changed into my reliable underarmour fleece pants.  Thankful.  Also thankful for the few minutes left of energy in my phone that make a quick call to let someone know my situation before it died and would not charge for a few hours until everything warmed up.  Thankful for the long snow shovel in the shed left by the previous owners so I could carve a parking space for my car in the driveway.  And thankful for years growing up in Minnesota winters so I can competently use a snow shovel.  And thankful for the know how to break up the work.  Stop shoveling, get some bags from the car, haul them to the house.  Check that the wood stove is still keeping fire.  Go back out and shovel some more.

Thankful that Taylor and I had chainsawed and stacked wood over the summer to prepare for winter warmth. Thankful to have the woodstove at all since the back up propane fueled Toyo won’t start.  And so thankful that this summer we moved the power pole got the electricity reactivated so I can turn on lights and see, and even have outdoor light for my shoveling.

While shoveling I felt weirdly peaceful knowing I no longer have anything in this cabin worth stealing.  The most valuable thing was the security equipment that was stolen…   I think this is a great lesson in both how real life is in Alaska sometimes and how freeing minimalism can be.  There were still some totes upturned, and crates rifled through, but I think the thief quickly realized there wasn’t much (s)he could gain from this house except bedding, kitchenware and home repair.  I am also really grateful that the person did not do needless damage to my things.  This is the fourth time my place has been broken into, and I feel like I learn a little bit more every time, and I let go a little bit more every time.  And weirdly have a little more faith in humanity.

(Side note: Today I also realized it’s hard to be creative when your time is consumed by basic need fulfillment.  Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs in action!)

170220 Go Without: Creativity Exercise

Tharp recommends taking a week off from a norm in your life to feed your creative health. It’s like a non food diet, and doesn’t need to last forever, just enough to get the taste of it.

For most of this trial my ongoing experiment over the week has been the Mind Wander project in increasing time duration.  But for this final week I’m trying something different all week.  On page 32 Tharp recommends taking a week off from a norm in your life to feed your creative health.   It’s like a non food diet, and doesn’t need to last forever, just enough to get the taste of it.  This has been one of the hardest challenges of this six week trial so far.  Since I don’t have tons of routines, I decided to eliminate internet time.  I quickly realized there are a number of time sensitive tasks I have that utilize the internet, so I immediately needed to revise.  The revision I created was that I could only go on the internet with a specific purpose, get in, accomplish it and get out.  Monday I failed horribly.  I think I spent almost an hour to two hours of aimless time on the internet.  After that I did pretty good, until Friday again when I was off task for probably about 30 mins.  I like the idea though.  It seems good to have days or times when you just write your list of things to accomplish on the net and then get back to physical reality.  This is definitely not anything I could do forever.  There’s so much good stuff out there on the internet that is good community building and inspiring that I think I would be missing out.

You could take this exercise in a lot of directions though.  Tharp mentions some examples of a week without a watch, mirrors  or newspaper.  All could have very different effects on your reality.

After a week of doing this I think the biggest reward was having more focus and intention with my internet time.  Even when I slipped off track I was more cognizant of what I was doing, because I was self regulating.  Awareness seems to go a long way in terms of helping to curb unwanted behavior, but self-discipline is the big bouncer you need in your club to help awareness weave a path through the crowd.  Without discipline I think awareness could just make you feel bad about yourself.  It did that some for me, but because I did follow through on my commitment often, it wasn’t horrible.  And who knows for some people becoming aware that they don’t like their own behavior and feeling bad about it, might just be the kick in the pants they need to make a change.  Everyone is different.

170221 Observe Others: Creative Exercise

…you could also imagine who these people might be and create characters for them, which seems like a great exercise for people who want to be better writers. Because lets be honest, some of the things people say would be hard to imagine. Having real life examples seems like a great starting point.

Interior Alaska in the winter time is not the easiest place to try to carry out the exercise challenge on page 50 of Tharp’s book The Creative Habit: Learn It and Use It for Life.  She wants you to go out some place in public and write down twenty actions that occur between two people.  Then she says to try the exercise again but this time only write down the things you find interesting.  She says by applying judgement to a situation we become more selective.  Also that looking at what you wrote down and left out in both trials can teach you more about how you see the world.  She says if repeated patterns will emerge, and not the world, but your self will be revealed.

So on Tuesday evening I went to the busiest place I could thing of that might have some action, where I could also have my computer and not seem nosey.  I had to adapt the exercise some because I couldn’t necessarily see all the people around me, but I could hear a number of different groups of people interacting over a span of time.  What you read below is not necessarily sequential, but as many fragments as I could catch of their conversations.  I think it is also including part two in a way because I could only focus on one thing at a time, so I must have naturally had to select the most interesting thing at the moment to attend to.  Tharp says after doing this exercise you could also imagine who these people might be and create characters for them, which seems like a great exercise for people who want to be better writers.  Because lets be honest, some of the things people say would be hard to imagine.  Having real life examples seems like a great starting point.

Ok here’s what I picked up over a few hours:

(Meeting of young mothers)

“I’m not going to tell her we met, she would just feel bad.”

“I feel a weight is lifted.”

“I put in faith prayer and it was the second thing that came up.”

child “No I want to…” Mom: “ok, ten, five?” (Child goes to hide under the chair)

“Mom I’m ready”

“Where’s Andy?  No, no, no…(mom looking under chairs) Yes!”

Other younger child goes under the chair and says “count to three, four” mom starts looking, “no, no, yes!”

Is she on big skis now?

Last time I’m asking you.  We can do it the hard way.  Come’on children lets go out the door.

 

(Group of young college guys: later saw they were playing video games)

Oh my GoD! I have whiplash.

You guys have to stand so Sean isn’t taller than you.  Later guys

We did it!  Whoooo, oh man, so close, why do you do this to me?

It was me, you were attacking me.  Whoa, god dammit, whooa laughter, lets go.  Dammit.  laughter, lets go.. Top ten animated…….   kill him, kill him.

I’m still alive.  I killed you, it was siiiiick.

He thought it was person who.. Who down in whoville.  Oyea, oyea, WOW.  whatwow, ya dare me to?  laughing…  64 character… dr. Mario.  Love him.  So you’re wrong.. why are you playing that?  Get, go away.   (Laughing) I got saved by a cloud.  I’m trying, I’m trying too hard.  ok wait.  it has to happen, once it hits two of them.  …dark mess.  Player four.

you’re dead.  ok I gotta go.  Vanish, vanished.  See you guys later.  Ok.  That damn mask.  Of course they attacked him.  not why.  Fuck. on you, rage, f in rage.

I can’t get a character I don’t know and can’t use for a third time, can I, really?  Hey, be thankful you aren’t sonic.  Yeah go ahead try.  WWE   Rock hawk.  Rock hawk rocks the stage.  I don’t like anyone who’s fast.  You don’t like Sonic even though you’re the one who trained Eric.  Ok. Alright, this is your biggest comeback in the entire world.  We’ve seen a …. reverse, but will we see another one today?  Just do what I do when I have problems…. how embarassing.  (Laughing)  Yeah you just realized.  Jesus Christ.  Right?  Wrong?  oh, no.  I hope I got jilted.  Up the mega coupa.  God I’m hit.  I don’t want to have to make this comeback again.  It’s rated G what did you expect?

He just killed his own son, is he proud?
Yea you did something.  Fricken smash santa claus.  Sh==  fricken lone wolf.  Everybody

 

 

(Guy and girl watching a movie and eating, both eating.)

G: Want me to go get our stuff?  B: Ok (guy continues watching alone)  G: I asked for whip cream B: Ok  G: Here you go. later.  Girl giggles loud, guy’s on phone.    “I’m supposed to be the red ranger” (fighting movie) shields. Girl: “He does say red and later he says he supposed to be blue.  I wonder if when they filmed this they just wore suits and said…”

 

(Group of older women)

“That’s from that book”  My phone will just up and call someone, does your phone do this? Or it will be about to call someone.

I try I try every day.  Hey, you’re there.  Alright we’ll see.

(some leave and one woman calls her child)

“Hi is  this a good time?  ok, good. Those bloody noses. No its just…  This person…. what I’m saying is basically what I’m saying is dad has real strong feelings about so he tells you those suggestions, we can’t help ourselves.  Whatever you feel is gonna work, you have different goals and know what is gonna work.  He’s willing to step back.  You’re always going to be getting a little advice, you just gotta do your own thing, what you know is right.  Caroline had a different dream and she wanted to be in Montana so she did it.  You’re gonnna find your path, and you’ll show us what it is and say see this is working.  You gotta take the things that go along with that life. If that’s the way you’ve found to provide for your self. I think the biggest down side is, when you have a job you get up at 7 and go.  When you are working for yourself you have to have the discipline to sit down and do it.  And a job makes you go, you know?

I’m by myself, I’m by myself.  But. (pause)

It’s just hard for him, it’s the difference between who you are.  It’s hard for him to see things different than him.

right,  right,

Don’t worry about it, take your time and make the right decision.  I’m not worried about it.  In my prayers just pray about it. hope you come out sometime.

(Conversation with child ends and I realize there’s still another woman there with her.  The one who was on the phone says to the other lady:)

Sorry, right at the point where he’s job hunting again.  hope he takes his time and finds something good.  they’re not hard steps.  No. (she leaves with one other older lady)