The Human Condition

I spent today, my last full day on Moosehead Lake, at an isolated, Park Service-maintained, campsite accessible only by boat, unless you know where to look for the faint trace of footpath. Fortunately, I made the path myself in 2011, and retrace my footsteps each year. I have not always used the camp; it’s first come, first served. On the occasions when others have claimed the site ahead of me, I did not announce my presence as I approached via the footpath. It seems likely that anyone camping in such an isolated spot doesn’t want to be bothered. I turned back at the first sign that the site was inhabited.

I come to Moosehead Lake for the solitude: I don’t like to be bothered when I’m here. I value, no, I cherish the solitude. If I want to socialize with other humans, I drive forty miles to Greenville, the nearest town. Otherwise, Yoshi, my faithful, furry, four-legged, canine companion, is good company. He eats, sleeps, and follows me everywhere I go. And he doesn’t talk to me. I acknowledge the people I run into up here, and engage them in conversation, but we rarely part knowing one another’s name.

Solitude is why we come to Moosehead Lake; knowing someone’s name means we’re not alone, we are neighbors, and with neighbors comes responsibility. Oh, I’d pull them out of a burning tent, or loan them tomato juice to remove skunk spray, but that is as far as it goes. “Neighbors” means you have to ask after the kids, talk about the ballgame, and decry the state of politics. No, thanks, I’d rather be nameless and go about my solitude in isolation.

I am a good neighbor fifty-one weeks of the year, but I want one week to myself, and I get it every September in the Maine woods. I unwind, recharge, relax, revitalize, reconstitute, rejuvenate, revivify, realign myself with the universe. I become the human being I was meant to be, the human being we all were meant to be. For one-week, I am not jammed into a cozy little cookie-cutter neighborhood, driving my 96-mile round-trip commute, working in a cubicle, and breathing stale, recycled air. Instead, I am outdoors, in the forest, among God’s wild creatures, breathing fresh air, feeling the rain fall on my bare head, grinning ear to ear at the sunrise and sunset, swimming free in a lake with crystal-clear blue water ringed by forested mountains rising tall above the landscape and kissing clouds as they float by, listening to birds chirp, chipmunks squeak, and frogs croak in bogs where moose wallow. This is life, not what I live the other fifty-one weeks of the year: a prisoner of civilized humanity, a crusader in search of the holy of holies: a Golden Parachute, an RV, and an atlas of America’s KOA campgrounds. That is not what I want.

Today, the sun shone brilliant, and the only clouds those that wanted to take part in the gift-giving of a heart-achingly beautiful day to me. The air temperature reached eighty-one degrees, nil humidity, while the water reached a cool sixty-six degrees. I swam off and on for hours, the water in God’s Country refreshing and relaxing me. I lay in the sand and let the sun warm me to the bone. I wrote at the picnic table until I sensed the water beckoning me for another swim.

I have lived 19,968 days; except for childhood, few of those days have been as relaxing as these past few on the lake. At times, I am so relaxed and at peace that I feel on the verge of falling asleep. My heart sometimes swells and tears of joy well in my eyes for no reason other than the happiness I feel at being fully alive, in the forest, on the lake, hiking, swimming, taking photographs and mental pictures, walking with my dog, contemplating my temporary return to nature.

It isn’t the vacation from responsibility that makes me feel this way, but the feeling I am living the way humans are supposed to live: close to Earth, close to God, not distant, not forgetful of who gave us all of this, not packed into a city where desperation is the odor one smells from the moment of waking to the moment of falling asleep. Not chasing the elusive promises of a bank account, a nine-to-five job to nowhere, pavement, locked doors, car alarms, feckless politicians, religious leaders with private airplanes, mass murderers, hypocrites, and agenda-driven politics.

No, humans are meant to live in small communities, where everyone knows your name; where greed and envy are the exception, not the rule; where politicians do not exist; where leaders lead and do not pander; where everyone works; where the truly needy are helped back on their feet; where kids are kids, play outside, and don’t need helmets, warning labels, or trigger warnings; where everyone eats peanuts; no one has asthma; people understand that meat must be fully cooked before consuming; and nobody needs a busybody telling them what their kids should be eating at school.

Anyway, I may have digressed. *Sigh* I come to Moosehead Lake for solitude. I’ll be back in my cubicle next week if you want to talk.

7 thoughts on “The Human Condition

  1. mobiuswolf

    Very nice Will, You aren’t 20 miles from my house.

    “It isn’t the vacation from responsibility that makes me feel this way, but the feeling I am living the way humans are supposed to live: close to Earth, close to God, not distant, not forgetful of who gave us all of this, not packed into a city where desperation is the odor one smells from the moment of waking to the moment of falling asleep.”
    That’s true for me. I never feel the need for a vacation. Most folks that live here want to vacation elsewhere, though.

    I’m in Blanchard Twp. Stop by if you get the chance.
    Fred
    mobius.wolf at gmail

    Like

  2. askyermom

    Lovely piece!! Moosehead is a perfect place to retreat. We did a lot of talking to Greenville locals when we were there, but I kept looking at the little island cabins in the lake and wondering what THAT would be like. Have you seen any moose? I never did!!

    Like

    1. Will Pennington

      Thank you for your comment! There have been years when the only moose I saw were ones on the “Moose Crossing” signs 🙂 This year, I had the great fortune to see one feeding in a bog. I went to all the bogs I know of but only saw the one. I took a ton of photos and a video, too. Several years ago I saw a female and two young feeding on the side of the road near Jackman. That was a great sight!

      Liked by 1 person

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