The last six months has been packed with stuff. So naturally, I made plans to stay in a cabin in the middle of a forest, just to see what would happen.
I wanted to explore who I was amongst natural surroundings and limited resources. I was tethered to my phone like it was life support. I had neck problems from staring at my computer for too long. And, more importantly, I’ve been surrounded by people all my life (aren’t we all?) so I wanted to see if I changed when I was by myself.
I packed up my things last week and drove five hours south to a cabin that had one gas stove, no electricity and no connectivity.
Reverting to 18th century living is not poetic nor is it graceful.
You know that moment where you’re at the top of a roller coaster and you realise, not only is this silly but you’ve irrevocably committed to it until the end?
That was my cabin adventure.
I had time aplenty to think of where my life’s heading.
I wanted to see who I was without my partner. We’ve been inseparable since I was 20 and I feared that I had fundamentally changed who I am, unknowingly, throughout our relationship.
People look at us from the outside and think we’re similar: two Sri Lankans that met in Australia. But if you look closer, we have sharp edges in our different principles and behaviours, and I am so happy that we do.
We toe around each other’s madness and rub away the sharp, rough edges, which is a good thing in life; where there are many different ways of doing the same thing.
When I thought about our relationship as I walked through the forest, I kept on thinking about two trees together. We grow next to each other, but don’t rely too much on each other. It becomes dangerous when one is a vine and the other is the trunk. But as long as it’s two trees growing together, with space in between as needed, it’s a healthy, balanced relationship. Ok, enough of this shitty ass metaphor.
I ate less that I normally do, and what I ate was better for me. Not having a fridge means that your meals revolve around the vegetables on the shelf.
I slept for longer but walked less than I do in the city (I used a jawbone to track all of this).
The thing that I didn’t anticipate was my fear of being raped and killed in the middle of a forest.
It was a tangible fear that hung in the air like a fog whenever the sun set. The thunder and lightning every night didn’t help.
I say it’s an irrational fear for me because women are 90% more likely to be raped or killed by someone they know (source). 10% of assaults are what all of our myths and horror stories revolve around – a woman being by herself, in the dark, no connection to the outside world, blah blah, fucking blah.
I hated my fear.
I hated that as a woman in 2014, I didn’t feel safe.
I hated it so much that I opened all the windows and doors and looked out at the trees through the lightning and lashings of rain, daring some hooded asshole to appear. And then I locked everything to go to sleep.
But I was out there, and I was being present through the fear, worry and adrenaline. And I returned, not in a coffin.
How do other women get past this? Is it just a matter of putting myself through these kind of experiences more often so that I harden my resolve? Maybe I should brush up on self-defence again.
I read three books and learnt eight songs on my ukulele. I painted and wrote. I swam in deserted beaches and watched wallabies eat in the dusk.
It had previously took me a month to learn one song on my ukulele and in one week I learnt eight songs.
I think this just points out how much value we should place in focus and how important the allocated time we have on earth is. I sing flat and fuck up chords, but there’s an unnamed joy in making music.
I also painted my ukulele. It’s a eucalyptus leaf on a uke. Euc on a uke. Get it? In Australia, the shortened word for a eucalyptus tree is pronounced like ‘uke’. Yeah, use that one the next time you want to impress someone with your worldliness.
For the first day, I looked at my watch every half hour. By the third day, I had taken it off and was just waking up with the sun.
I imagine that people from the 18th century longed for the 16th century and so on and so forth from the beginning of time. We romanticise the past for it’s simplicity and we’ll continue to do so until humanity blows up.
Our grandchildren will probably pine for a world where a GPS didn’t tell you when you were, indeed, on the road less travelled.
If I’m being completely truthful, I much prefer the background din of a local pub or a crashing ocean to the laughing sound of kookaburras and the rustle of trees.
There is something to be said of loosing track of time and going back to basics.
Here’s a little home video I made of the week.