Hihium Lake, August 2016

Night Sky

Night Sky

The deep rumble in the distance could be a locomotive or it could be thunder. I can’t tell. I am out of my element and in it all at the same time. Five thousand feet above sea level. Hours from civilization. Finally visiting my dear friend’s cabin after years of hearing about it. The almost seven hours drive to get here has been an impediment up to now; finally I am here and I get it. Seven hours – worth it. Is that how long it takes these days to get far enough away from the city that you don’t even hear airplanes.

The last two nights I have awoken at midnight and gone outside to see the most mysterious wondrous thing that we humans can see – the night sky undimmed by the lights of cities and towns. This elevation brings a clarity to the night sky that I haven’t seen since my back-to-the land stint in the 1970s.

I have a theory. The hubris and arrogance of humans grows in indirect proportion to our exposure to the night sky. The night sky is humbling, terrifying, fascinating, and compelling all at once. One cannot stare up into the night sky strewn with the cold rock-hard diamonds of the universe without knowing one is as insignificant as a speck of dust. Not seeing the night sky permits us to grow into demi-gods in our own minds.

As I looked up to the sky, enveloped in darkness, I felt dizzy as though I couldn’t tell up from down. As though I had to hold on or I would be flung, falling into deep space, losing touch with the earth forever. A falling star streaked across the blackness and destroyed any sense of perspective. Can I catch it? Will it fall at my feet? I stayed for five nights and my mind cleared.

The forest and lake are clear and clean. No internet. No cell service. No traffic. No grocery stores.  I am amazed at the many elaborate solutions to the complexities of life we humans require in order to live on this planet. The birds, bears, fish, squirrels, plants, flowers, berries, trees all require no outside help. The sun, the stars, the rain, the thunder provide all that is needed. We humans require ATVs to transport in our food, our tools, our clothes, our supplies. We need cabins, outhouses, decks, roads, chimneys, hot water tanks, boats, chairs and stoves. We need propane, gasoline, oil, and kerosene. Flashlights, candles, pots and pans. At times I am overwhelmed by the number of ‘things’ required for us to be Goldilocks-comfortable. The cities disguise all this complexity for us and make it seem well managed. Hidden from us is the true cost.

We do have some electricity. It seems miraculous. Just enough to power my computer, not enough for heaters or irons. My job for this week is to finally finish my book. I started talking out loud about my book less than a year ago. Thinking about it for longer. I decided to tell people “I am writing a book” knowing that this is how I make and keep a commitment. Tell the world and somehow that helps to make it happen.

Book writing is like being pregnant; by the time the book is ready you just want to get it over with and never do it again. I found out just before the long drive to the lake that I had to completely restructure the book in order for it to reach my readers. (Do I have readers?? I wonder.) Despite feeling that I will Never finish this damned book I settle into a routine at the cabin that is so much more pleasant than at home. I have no distractions except the dog who needs to fetch sticks and balls from the lake and would be so obliged if I would come out and throw for her. “With pleasure”, I tell her.

The days pass blissfully. I complete the rewrites and go home swelling with a sense of accomplishment that I haven’t felt for a long time.  More touch-ups. More re-reads. Some final edits and then off for typesetting.  It’s no wonder birds, bears, fish, and squirrels don’t write books. It’s a lot of work and they are busy living for today. Some perhaps are putting up some stores for the coming winter.


The Executive Horse: 21st Leadership Lessons From Horses should be out by October 13th, 2016. Imagine that!