The woods were deep, and from their inky darkness a tap, tap, tapping echoed. A soft blanket of snow lay covering my tracks. My Jeep was left back on the trail. I was only a mile off the creek road, but looking at the stone-grey clouds covering the distant ridges, I was glad I had put chains on the front tires. Today, dawn had broken without her smile of light. I stoked the campfire and pushed the pot over the glowing embers as floating crystals sizzled, steamed, and sang on the stones holding the grate.
Leaving the pot and fire to finish their work, I went back to my tapping. Like a woodpecker, with adze in hand, I continued chipping away on the sleepers. Sleepers are the floor beams of a cabin, which sit across the outside sill logs. A foot adze is often used to hew off the round top surface of the logs. Later, I’d place flooring over these hopefully level timbers. I contemplated the completion of my toil, and my mind drifted forward to a fully finished kitchen where I’d sit before the fire watching winter storms and seasons pass as my kettle whistled.
It had been my intention to have all the logs in place and the roof on before winter. But life laughs at our plans; we, on the other hand, tend to scold ourselves for our mistakes. I’ve discovered that there is a greater joy found in intentions than in goals. Intentions are the persistent whisperings of the heart, and goals simply the shouts and demands of the mind. The greatest joy I’ve found is in the simple act of just doing. I must contend with Aristotle’s words, “All men seek one goal: success or happiness.” Some seek neither success nor happiness, because they know both are contained in the simple act of doing. Success or happiness are the effects, not the causes. Being present is the cause.
Simplicity, serenity, and silence are the conditions most conducive to calming the mind’s clamorous noisemaking.
It is this that allows the doer to become the doing. On that special morning, I went back to chipping and tapping, chipping and tapping, as snowflakes landed on my brow and my words fell to the ground. Soon a blizzard wind had picked up, the flames became a steamy vapor, and the scents of pine resin and wood smoke were cast from the sleeve of my woolen shirt as I wiped the wetness from my face. Trancelike, in a strange euphoria, I crawled into my lean-to against the logs to await the storm’s passing. I waited without any sense of waiting.
When the doer becomes the doing, as the waiter becomes the waiting, there is no one left to experience. It is only the wind blowing, the trees swaying, and the snow flying. There is only a man working on a cabin. There is only simplicity, serenity, and silence. All is as it was meant to be: the universe observing itself in simplicity, serenity, and silence. Nothing more, nothing less.
p.s. Logan Pearsall Smith wrote: “What I like in a good author is not what he says, but what he whispers.” Your writing (and especially your journaling) reveal much about you. These whispers are your inborn creativity. They unveil and free your spirit. You do not need to be a published writer to do this, only to be willing to open up your creativity. This is why my wife, Katrina and I are offering you the opportunity to join us in the artist’s loft in historic Glasgow, KY for our Writer’s Retreat. Care to join us? Click HERE for all the details.