I have lived a long life already, even though I consider myself young still. I have found that I am a happier person if I spend some time vanishing from my usual life in society and head for a remote place in nature. I grew up camping and remember the true feeling of freedom. I moved to a very remote, rural area of northern NM for my 20s. I could go weeks without seeing anyone but my partner and child. I did go 2 weeks once when he was out of town. It was winter and the snow was deep, necessitating removing it from the roof with a shovel. I had a baby at the time and was up on the roof while she slept. As I was shoveling, it occurred to me that if I fell, I could break a leg and lie in the snow without anyone knowing and my poor baby would have no care. This was a disconcerting thought. I think that is too much vanishing. So, now, I live in the outskirts of a large city. My home is comfortable and surrounded by things I love – painting supplies, seedlings growing in the windows and a comfy chair that faces the front garden where birds come to eat the suet I put out. The yard is large and we have three old maples that leaf out about this time, provide shade in the summer and drop their beautiful golden leaves in the fall. We are far from the street, so I can lay under a tree in my hammock and no one can see me. I have a vegetable and a flower garden. In the back yard is a hot tub. At night, I can go out naked and no one can see me. I feel invisible in plain sight. If I should fall (old enough to think about this now), I would be found. For complete invisibility, I now take my camper van and go out into the forest or to a beach. In the winter, I could be the only one around. I am comfortable, warm and self contained. My spirit is lifted when I am in nature. I have never found a church that I resonate with, no image of God that I can cling to. But, nature gives me a spiritual base. The way a seed can grow to a majestic tree, or a tiny bug that lives only a few days. Or a cicada that goes underground, emerging once every 7 – 14 years. The sand is full of see creatures who have lost their shells, some have died and some have been reused. All have been food for the seabirds. The cycle of life is comforting. I too, will need to pass through this life and become something else. When I am in nature, I vanish from my previous life. I am one with the world in general and at night I am one with the universe. The stars that have died out centuries ago, but I can still see. The sun and the moon that circle the earth on a regular basis, can be counted on. I am one of so many. My infinitesimal size is actually comforting. I know that I am not in control of anything. The relief is profound. My current vocation is to watch the world and find contentment in my place in it, at this time. I am complete when I am in nature. No voices that tell me I “should be” or “should do”. I just am. That is all.
By Paul DeLong
On April 30, 2022
Lovely reflection on how facets of vanishing dance with the manifested unvanished. Especially enjoyed your point that there is a thing as “too much vanishing,” and yet, in the end we all vanish “beyond our control.” Great piece! Thanks!