The Story of An Arkansas Atheist: Retreat Edition Ep. 2 (3/3)

3. As the Sun Began to Set – I split my main fire pit into two piles. One, I began to build up again to keep the grandios campfire going. The other, I kept the fire low and set up the fold out grates for cooking. Tonight’s dinner is a couple of the sausages purchased on the way out of town (a traditional meal of mine out here). Some McCormick Montreal Steak flavored links. They were amazing.

Day 2 A
I love this view from The Oasis. I always feel at peace here. Even though it is just a few dozen paces behind the cabin, it feels like a different world to me.

I had found some great and fulfilling ends today, and I felt a great time for mediation would be after eating. Following the tenants of Kum Nye, I waited thirty minutes before any attempts at being with myself (that sounded a little dirty). This second meditation of the day would be twice as long as the first, also, I let my mind play a bit in the form of allowing daydreams to run a little longer than usual, just listening to myself, always bringing myself back to the moment and my breath. These daydreams had an obvious genesis.

I have been recording narratives via dictation since last night, and most of my thoughts kept coming back to these narratives (I’ll talk about these narratives more later). New friends and old feelings check against my attempts to be in the moment. When I just listen, the pops and taps carried on the fall breeze come to me as a reminder that the forest is shaking off dead weight. I get a chill now describing its beauty, which I assure the reader, is every bit as beautiful as the some of the fictional futures daydreamed about. After my mediation finished, I tended the fire and read until The Stranger had only a few pages left.

By this time the sun had set entirely and a sharpening coolness had begun to take the air. It was at this point that I wanted to get the wood stove fired up, and I had yet to really test it.

Of course, my first few attempts were only successful in filling the cabin with smoke. The smoke filled cabin had been really hard on me last year, but I suppose I have been tempering myself around campfire at a near daily level for months now. Within minutes memories of Hilary and I repairing the stove pipe last year began flooding back to me. I had seen this problem before. I went around to the back of the cabin and removed the chimney at the elbow bent for elevating the last of the stove pipe. Within seconds, smoke began pouring out the stove pipe. The buildup had narrowed the passage through each segment to the point of not working, so I took the pipe apart and cleaned it out. Once what I believed to have been a thorough cleaning had been completed, I reassembled the now working stovepipe and took the moment to watch the white smoke pour out of the chimney. I laughed out loud and clapped my hands in admiration of my little victory. It would work perfectly for the rest of my stay.

I realize now that I should have cleaned it before initiating a test run. My daylight fading to the point of making any “work” dangerous, I fired up the propane generator, watched some BBC on DVD over a few rounds, and dipped in for a second batch of rice. After eating, and into the second episode of Life, I made an unusual writing choice.

Day 2 B
The close to finished Oasis of Education. The wood pile is just to the left of the image on the north side of the campsite.

I’d entered into the entire retreat on the assumption that I would compose with the laptop some, but the couple of times I tried, it didn’t feel right. That is when I began hand writing this journal. See, I had brought a small, blue-plastic covered composition notebook some months ago and had been using it to journal for Hilary. Once that had become somewhat pathological for reasons unrelated to the book itself, I had let it lay dormant for some time. (The last journal entry to her is still in it as I type the transcription these weeks later. I don’t know if she’ll ever read them.) It quickly became apparent that the whole writing, smoking, and drinking process would be enhanced by electronic silence. The generator turned off, lights doused except for candles allowed the sound of fire and night to once again take center stage.

I wrote frantically, covering the ground up until this point or just before it. This is how I would find sleep. Exhaustion via artistry. I don’t think I had it in me to read after the writing event. To tell you the truth, these weeks later, I don’t recall.

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