Last weekend, J. and I hauled our shabby little tent-trailer, purchased two summers ago from a guy in Thunder Bay with hardly any teeth, to Bakers Narrows Provincial Park near Flin Flon. We camped on the Canadian Shield.
J. wanted to find the path in to One Portage Lake, which, rumour has it, is stuffed full of trout, so on Sunday we rumbled around on the back roads until we came across an old timer out walking with his daughter and grand-daughter who sketched us a map on the dirt road.
It was a great hike in – terrific training for Scotland – but he didn’t catch anything. I sat on the slope of rock, eating dark chocolate, letting the silence sink in, broken only by loon calls, ducks quacking as they flew low across the water’s still surface, the leap of a fish, taunting J.’s line. I was processing. Letting myself heal, I think, from the previous week, bolstering my writerly courage, feeling what I needed to feel, deciding how to move forward.
Back at the campsite, off-line for luxurious stretches, we napped in our hammocks and I read. I read an entire book (Indian Horse by Richard Wagamese), and started another one (Joan Crate’s Black Apple), and also had time to knit my brains out. How the Internet eats our days in chunks of useless Google searches, endless email checks, the constant march of the Facebook timeline.
Let’s move here, I said to J., sitting by that secret lake. Let’s build a little cabin and start getting ready for winter.
How nice that seemed right then, although that other part of me, the non-hermit part that’s been slobbering lately with desire to talk to other writers like me, to wander through an art gallery, to go to a reading, knows that the immensity of the beautiful wilderness eventually oppresses. At least that’s been my experience.
What I realized is that from Thursday on I’d been at risk of free-fall, teetering on the edge of abandoning my commitment, because of somebody else’s opinion. I didn’t even really know it until the moment, flipping the corn over to grill the other side, when I felt myself step back from the cliff’s edge.
Oh, yeah, I thought. I don’t have to do this.
I don’t have to give away days, weeks, months of my writing life. I can take what it is, good and bad, useful or not, and decide what to do with it. And then move on, the best way I can, with my work. My work. That’s the key.
Needless to say, I felt world’s better. We hustled the corn onto our metal plates and leapt into the camper to get out of the rain, played a tenth game of Scrabble while eating, and the next day, I wrote a poem.
I’ve got big plans now; I’m busy. Revision, editing, rewriting, writing, creating and coaching. Stay tuned for a couple changes around here, and soon, the launch of a project near and dear to my heart, in which you can take part.