Shedding It

Adventures in peace and quiet


There were six of us trying to live in a two-bedroom rental cabin in Glacier that winter. Money was tight. Floor space was at a serious premium.

Compounding these issues were the increasingly detrimental effects of an insidiously popular and (then) brand-new video game called “Grand Theft Auto.” With my own eyes, I watched all five of my cabin mates became addicted to it.

Suddenly—almost literally overnight—they went from spending every possible moment hitting mad kickers and carving deep turns through the heavies to investing the majority of their time and energy huddled around a 60-inch big screen with the surround-sound cranked up so loud that a freight train full of screaming hyenas could have come roaring through our walls and nobody would have been able to hear it over all the gratuitous street crime and violence.

Inevitably, it became exceedingly difficult for me to catch a proper night’s sleep. And the less sleep I managed to get, the more nerve-strained and primordial I grew.

Driven near to the breaking point on a daily basis, I soon decided to set up camp on our back deck so I could lay down and count my blessings peaceably amongst the frosty, hibernating-friendly quietude of the Upper North Fork Valley.

Unfortunately, our back deck wasn’t even close to being far enough away to muffle the resonating catastrophe of simulated gang warfare emanating unabated from our living room. So I promptly gathered my bed things and plunged ever-deeper and away into the night.

I ran and I ran and I ran. And when I finally stopped, I found the forest had sufficiently enveloped me. Immersed in the darkness, I couldn’t immediately discern where I’d escaped to. But wherever it was, it felt better and exceedingly more mellow than the obnoxious orgy of synaptic obliteration I’d just escaped.

Gradually, as my night vision intensified, I was able to see that I was standing in front of our woodshed—a cozy little weatherproof outbuilding full of kiln-dried mill ends that we used to heat our cabin.

“Jackpot!” I thought as dragged my -40 F sleeping bag in through the door and spread it out on a bed of smooth, solid wood.

Finally, at long last, I managed to lay down comfortably and quietly enough to listen to owls hoot and hear my own breath again. The ensuing slumber proved as deep as it was bottomless. Ten years might just as easily have passed in the precious few hours I nodded off.

I wound up spending quite a bit of time reading, meditating and counting sheep in that woodshed over the next few months. And the season kept getting better.

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