On a secluded, pine-laden plot bordering the Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado lies Simbo’s cabin. Built entirely by his hands, it is a testament to one man’s ingenuity and resourcefulness, and has become a place of rest, inspiration, and solace for me in the most sacred of ways.
More and more frequently, I make the pilgrimage from Texas, and each time it becomes harder to leave. And not just petty disappointment for a trip’s end, but a gut-wrenching, alkaline inducing, feeling of dread and separation that runs me off the rails for a short time.
When my mind and body revolt in this way, I try to listen, and discover the source of such a physiological warning sign. This time, on the morning before my departure, I sat on the front porch listening to the rain hitting the woodpile, with birds of different melody and plumage reveling in the mountain shower, and thought about what this cabin, and all others, might represent.
A cabin can be in many places, in a variety of ecosystems or country sides, but most of them serve a similar function. Mountain, beach, lake, desert, forest or prairie cabin, the mental state one enters upon arrival is usually the same.
It offers a chance to strip away the stresses of modern life, to drop all of the worries we carry around every day, and move past the put-ons we are preached at about, held responsible for, or judged by. None of those matter here, and are shown fully in their false light by the breeze whispering in the pines, the roar of the river, or the steadfast silence of the mountain.
The cabin offers us access to a mostly forgotten, sacred source of life. But you must choose to pursue it. Just as monuments are created for honor, or symbols created for reference, the cabin acts as both, reminding us to step out of the story we’re often caught up in, the negative patterns we’ve developed, and the excuses we make to avoid things.
All of these make us sick and unhappy, and pull us away from a peaceful existence. Gently, a cabin prompts us to observe the pulse of life around us, and the amazing source of vitality and inspiration that abounds. Out here, the forcefulness of civilization is lessened, drowned out by the radiant glow of nature, where the veil between man and the surrounding environment is thinned.
The cabin can be a gateway, a trail head of sorts to our real, intended nature, where nothing is expected or demanded, just is.
Some have learned to live without it, some never had it, but those of us who do need a close connection with the natural world must seek it, listen to it, and learn from it. Where does this come from, and why are we so pulled to answer the call? For the same reason that the goose flies south, or the elk shed their noble antlers, the bear hibernates, or why the wolf howls; we too need this for our survival.
And not survival of the body per say, but of the soul, and a life with meaningful experience.
Whether through the changing of the seasons, the waxing of the moon, or the turning of the tides, nature has much to teach us, and we’ve only to keep returning to the cabin to receive those lessons.