Atleast once a day for the past 3 years, I have spoken aloud the words that were born from Thoreau, but seem to apply to every situation in which I find myself: “I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately.” Live deliberately. I’m not sure which is the more powerful word of the two – live, or deliberately?
There was something about the chaos in DC, the hectic pace and the constant running around to events that became too much. Though I am still as in love with the city as the day I left, the exhaustion that became par for my course was just. too. much. The farm has always offered a reprieve from the crazy, a haven in which I can escape and hide from social media and whatever heartbreak had consumed me. In years past, I would retreat to this place and lose all track of time for a few months in the summer, forget the blog and my phone and live in barn clothes and smell like horse.
It was idyllic.
But these days, when there is no heartbreak (thank goodness), no schedule, no classroom in which to immerse myself, and the few months have come and gone and I am in charge of social media and this blog, there is no losing track of the outside world, but rather I find myself struggling to marry it to this place which has always been exempt from the obligation of social life. It’s an odd place to be; caught somewhere between living at the farm but not quite on the farm.
Scott carries on with work in DC from afar, but the choice to strip myself of my teaching identity and find this deliberate life on the farm has me feeling like I’m standing naked on the corner of Times Square in New York City.
For if I’m not a teacher, who am I?
That question has been plaguing me for the last 4 months, and I have yet to define an answer.
And then I go back to Thoreau, who rid himself of the toils of the world to live deliberately. To find, in the solace of his little hut on Walden Pond, a greater meaning than could be found on the busy streets of Boston.
I came to this farm because I wished to do the same – to understand early in my life, what it is that makes life worth living. I knew I was happy in DC, but I didn’t feel complete. I wanted to spend time making note of the seasons, looking up to see stars and not just the reflection of city lights. I wanted to discover if I could, what potential I had left if it wasn’t spent in the classroom.
It’s been harder than I ever imagined. The days come and go so quickly, and whereas before I felt depleted from physical, emotional and intellectual exertion in the classroom, these days I am depleted from the void of that exertion – if that makes sense. Stripping oneself of an applied identity is no easy feat my friends, and creating a life that we had imagined here on the farm is taking a little more work than I bargained for. I am working on it, and I know it will be worth the effort.
But I will say this: I have discovered a joy in the routine that I have created – the walk to the barn every morning to greet my horses and goats, the excitement over seeing Ivan explore new territory in town and on the farm, and retreating to the bedroom that I worked so hard on to spend time in the evenings with Scott. I have to work harder at the things outside of that routine, and push myself to live deliberately in this place without succumbing to the expectation of it. Because as we all know, expectations are risky business.
This post isn’t a woe-is-me, life’s-too-hard type of thing. It’s just an honest address of transitioning from one life to another. I am surrounded by my favorite people in the world, living on the most beautiful piece of property I’ve ever seen, and I am nestled in a comfy bed – and admittedly just ate an Oreo. Double Stuffed. Life is good. I just need to remind myself that I chose to live deliberately, and therefore I must get up and enjoy the art of slow living.
If ever I should get another tattoo, I’m certain that these words would be chosen. What would your words be?
I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived. I did not wish to live what was not life, living is so dear; nor did I wish to practise resignation, unless it was quite necessary. I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life, to cut a broad swath and shave close, to drive life into a corner, and reduce it to its lowest terms, and, if it proved to be mean, why then to get the whole and genuine meanness of it, and publish its meanness to the world; or if it were sublime, to know it by experience, and be able to give a true account of it in my next excursion.— Henry David Thoreau, “Where I Lived, and What I Lived For”, in Walden