Skip to main content

The Healthiness of Being Stuck in the Muck... an appetizer for Lust for the Dust.

There are people who move to the American Southwest for "nice, warm" weather. I am not one of them. I never fled the Cold of mainstream Gringo-ville; I fled what goes along with the cold.

During the recent spring storm in upper Arizona, I was socked in for 48 hours. Surprisingly, the solar panels (480 Watts, nominal) did a half-decent job of charging the batteries. But without a generator, it was necessary to supplement the struggling solar panels by running the tow vehicle's engine. It would be undesirable to do much of that of course. After turning the engine on, the dog and I went for a walk, and tried to make the best of it.

How wholesome and healthy-minded this experience was! May and June are the crisis-months when I take to dreading Dry Heat. They are the months of disintegrating fingernails, nose-bleeds, cracked heels, paranoid parking with the dog in the van, fire closures in the forest, and wildfire evacuations.

When the monsoons finally arrive in the last days of June, they offer such relief that you want to worship them.

And that is why it is so gratifying to endure a little torture from a storm. (I love the Spanish word for storm, 'la tormenta.') It makes you appreciate sunlight and warmth, instead of dreading them, as I usually do. Shall we compare coldness and mud to a psychological "bank account" that builds up during a storm, and then allows you to live off of your "account" when the Dry Heat starts?

Just think: no driving, no spending money for 48 hours. You feel an inexorable tug to get everything back to normal, that which is predictable, bland, bar-coded, middle-class, and comfortable. But let's resist that tug, and see what happens instead.

Trapped in my little house, I had to adapt my clothing, sleeping, cooking, walking, reading, and everything else to mitigate a grim situation. I saw 'value' in things that would have been uninteresting under normal circumstances. It was wonderful just to cook beans in my pressure cooker, and warm up the little trailer. And my innards. 

It was like living in a bygone century, when winter and mud meant solitude and boredom. Just imagine how talented you would have to be, as a historian, to affect the readers even 10% as strongly as being mud-bound for a couple days does.

It takes imagination and determination to deal with this. Somewhere, Bertrand Russell lamented "modern man's" (his 1920s) inability to thrive in solitude. Proud atheist that he was, he admitted that a religious bent is a useful tool for thriving in solitude.  The recluse can imagine "God" as a friendly companion to talk to, and as an ally against the harshness of life. Have secular people done such a great job at inventing a rational substitute for the god-companion?

Long-suffering readers are used to me praising (short term, voluntary) Discomfort, not for its own sake of course, but rather, for its possible consequences. It is like a coiled metal spring: something must compress it so that it can subsequently expand and do positive work.


Dave Davis said…
I just started reading your blog. I enjoy it very much and went into older ones for some more insight. I move around according to the temperatures. I enjoy the occasional storm and the confinement it brings. I do try to avoid whole seasons of cold and inclement weather which is why we spend 5-6 months in the southwest.
Again, I am truly enjoying your words.
Yes indeed, ENTIRE seasons of yuk wouldn't have the stimulating, rise-to-the-challenge effect on me the way that short term challenges have.
John V said…
Being rig-bound for a few days in a private spot may be inconvenient, but it definitely beats waiting out a storm in a paved Wal Mart parking lot or overpriced campground. Besides, sometimes you need a break from all the sun and exercise!
Sometimes camping in the mud with a dog can drive a person crazy, and make them prefer a Walmart parking lot!