Before I get into the details of this blog post — I just want to say, thanks. Thanks for the comments and for the interest. I’m writing about North Carolina today, only because several blog readers asked about it. I appreciate that you took the time to wonder, and to ask. Thank you — it means a lot to me.
Sharing My Life (minus the people in it)
For the most part, I try to make this blog only about my thought process and insights, or things I think are worthy of news/attention. I rarely talk about partners, friends, family or my community. (My mom is the only person, or relationship, I have shared in detail. And I brought both of those blog posts to her attention, and I asked if she approved. Fortunately, she did. If she didn’t, I would have edited them or deleted them immediately.)
I have a general rule to not include the people in my life in blog posts. I do this out of respect for their privacy, and also to earn their trust. It’s challenging to share all that transpired in North Carolina, without bringing other people into the picture. I will do my best to briefly share all I can — from only the perspective of my thought process and insights. All details regarding partners, friends, family or my community will be left out intentionally.
The original plan was to own a piece of land and create a life off-grid. I was very naive in that regard. I was a city girl, that spent her entire life on foot. I’ve always been able to walk freely, live without a car, interact with people easily, find creative outlets, and be completely independent. This was not possible on the land I was planning on starting a life on.
The roads were rough and dangerous, full of ditches and switchbacks. The Airstream was going to be a little mobile home on the land, to get things started. A place to live, while things were being set-up — and it wasn’t even possible to get it there (without it being a major undertaking, because of the roads and the location of the land). The idea of building a creative studio and a tiny home, seemed doable at first, then quickly became overwhelming and too expensive of a project, especially since the Airstream mobile home didn’t work out.
When I was in New York, I imagined myself living on the remote piece of forest land, in a tiny home, walking down the mountain into town. Talking long relaxing journeys, in nature, for exercise and transportation, meeting and greeting people along the way. Nope. Not possible. Once I got to the land, I quickly realized what a bad idea it was. Well, not bad. Just not suitable for me. No one walked there. Neighbors didn’t interact, and there were no sidewalks or foot paths. People stayed within their property lines, and within their vehicles — all the time. This wasn’t a life for me.
Places Over People
I decided to put the land, tiny house, and mobile home idea on hold, and to get settled in town. Downtown Black Mountain was great. I could walk easily and interact with neighbors. I found the people there really lovely. Living in downtown Black mountain was great. It was quiet, and convenient, and full of nature’s beauty. I preferred this over the idea of living off-grid (quiet, full of nature’s beauty — but terribly inconvenient).
In the beginning, I felt like living off-grid, in the forest, sounded natural and liberating. But later I realized that my definition of living naturally and free, meant walking as I pleased, and feeling close to my community. I also realized how much I missed dancing. My dance community in New York was a big part of my life. I wasn’t craving New York City after I left, but I was craving the opportunity to dance, and connect with like-minds.
It became clear to me that if I stayed in North Carolina, in a small town like Black Mountain, I would be choosing a place (that filled my need for quiet), at the expense of people (that filled my need for camaraderie and self-expression). And if I returned to a big city, I’d be doing the reverse — instead of choosing a place over people, I’d be choosing people over a place.
I needed to find a middle ground. I wanted to find a place, were I could have it all. I want to dance with friends, to walk and bicycle freely, to feel close to my community — but at the same time, breathe fresh air, enjoy the peace/quiet, and live in a natural environment, in a small town. Ashland, Oregon seemed to have the balance I was looking for. So I packed up my things and moved out west.
Idealistic Notions vs. Natural Intelligence
When you live off-grid, in the country, so many things need to be accounted for. It’s major work. Paving a road, building a house, starting a garden and growing food, securing a water supply, maintaining heat in winter, staving off harmful bugs and snakes, enduring rough and unpredictable seasons, relying on mechanical transportation and fuel, being able to send and receive mail, having access to internet connections and mobile phone towers, fencing land and protecting animals, processing recycling materials and properly disposing of trash — all of this is only the beginning!
When building fires and keeping them burning all day is your only source of heat, you quickly realize why electric heaters and radiators were invented. I’m not saying one is better than the other, I just have a better understanding of why our culture is overloaded with convenience items. Elevators, toilets, blenders, hot water heaters, refrigerators and vacuums — all of this is not necessary, but it sure makes things feel a lot easier.
I now understand how things got out of control in our society. We went from being tired of making fires, to being fat & lazy from cooking with microwaves. I don’t feel that things need to be so extreme, I think there is a middle ground.
At one time I thought living in nature sounded ideal. I also thought living on only fruits & greens sounded ideal too. But when I tried it, I realized that just because it sounds ideal, it doesn’t necessarily mean it is ideal. Sometimes a body’s innate intelligence will override what sounds ideal, for what might be most practical.
I still eat vegan/plant based foods, I still eat mostly raw, I still have the desire to live in nature, and to live peacefully and sustainably. At the same time, I choose what works best for me. I listen to what my soul craves and what my innate intelligence says is best for me. It might not be something that sounds ideal, or fits my idealistic notions at the time, and that’s okay. I don’t live for what sounds right, I live for what feels right — for me.
In a nutshell, Western North Carolina is gorgeous, and the people there were very kind. I haven’t given up on the idea of owning land, and living on my own terms, in nature. But I also haven’t given up on community, self-expression, the arts, living freely (on foot), and what it means to be an evolving being.
Inventions and technology has changed the world forever. It’s up to us to make it a good thing or a bad thing, something that serves us or enslaves us.
I don’t think any lasting solution is found in extremes, or from turning a blind eye. It’s up to us to live balanced, healthy lives — in what we’ve unconsciously co-created, while we consciously co-create something new. No man is an island. Everyone and everything is integral. I’d like to live in a way that reflects that. It’s an experimental time for me right now, but I guess that’s all life is.