Working through the anxiety

In the current economic pinch it seemed crazy to drive a 2,932-pound Prius 18 miles round-trip just so I could ski a few miles in circles. The Piedmont ski trails currently have the best classic ski conditions around, however, and my family relationships don’t do well when exercise and time outdoors are curtailed.

a selfie alongside Piedmont’s trails on 3/17

The day before I drove 40 miles roundtrip in our expensive 12-year-old car to skate ski at Boulder Lake:

Absolutely wonderful place to practice the technique

My wife and I both operate businesses from home, so we don’t drive much. Prior to being laid off from a corporate job nearly 6 years ago, I telecommuted from a home office. Back in the dark ages of working in a cubicle, I biked to work, so there’s something richly extravagant about driving solo in a complex vehicle that weighs nearly 20 times me and a water bottle. I suppose I need to get past this and move on.

Both my kids are home from school, for months potentially, due to COVID 19, so there’s more guilt when they politely decline the offer of an amazing gym class, having moved on from skiing in favor of spring pursuits (seemingly oblivious to the fact that they’ll be confined to pavement for weeks on end until trails dry out).

Perhaps my aversion to such luxuries is due to my financial sphincter squeezing shut to such an alarming degree. Never in our lives has wholesale change come upon us so swiftly or comprehensively. There’s a good chance our income will dwindle down to zero. This scares the heck out of me. Oddly enough, my reaction to the stress is to fantasize about pulling contributions out of my Roth IRA to pay off about half our home’s remaining mortgage. I moved mostly to cash a couple weeks ago, so this is an option. I think about this at least 100 times a day, dwelling and marinading inside the notion of becoming completely debt-free.

Proverbs 22:7 – the borrower is slave to the lender.

Certainly feels like it, even though we pay a fair interest rate on just $46K remaining. And yet, I know this probably doesn’t make sense mathematically. However, I have seen the miracle of our family surviving (sometimes even thriving) on a combined annual income of $30K. Our situation would be completely impossible if we had any other debt whatsoever. This freedom feels amazing. Over the past half-decade of struggling we have proven to ourselves that we can cut our spending down to a shockingly low bare-minimum. I’d sleep better at night if we could slay this last dragon, and live 100% debt-free for the rest of our lives.

I’m beyond grateful that we have an emergency fund and some dollars we’ve been rubbing together in anticipation of a second vehicle next year when the kids start driving. Coronavirus throws all these plans up in the air. Maybe a larger vehicle is out of the question. We were also considering an art exhibition in Palm Springs about a year from now. Perhaps this business trip/family vacation that we’ve already set aside cash for is similarly unrealistic. Our reality is changing. Shifting. These are times that will live in our minds and spirits forever. Transformative. I’ve wanted so badly to give my kids more of these “normal” kinds of experiences and amenities, but maybe this isn’t the path laid out for us.

Is this so bad? Might our kids be stronger and more resilient as a result? I’ve been slowly reading a book about Dietrich Bonhoeffer, and am currently engrossed in the months right before WWII broke out. It’s increasingly apparent to many that Hitler is a mad man who will lead Germany into ruin. Jews of means are fleeing the country before the borders close. The incredible angst really puts my own anxieties into perspective. Tonight we’ll probably watch something on Netflix. Poor me….

My best friend eats from the best sandwich I think I’ve ever had, which was loaded with Spring In Your Step microgreens (pea, radish, and sunflower) – go get you some at the Whole Foods Co-op today!!!!
After enjoying our sandwiches, we headed up the Grand Portage toward a secret abandoned cabin we’ve been journeying to for over a quarter-century.
The journey is long. Read about it in my book.
Arrived. Cabin looks the same as always. Never changes. I love that.
Get a fire going and warm up. The backpack on the right is the same one I used on my backpacking/train trip mentioned in all my stories in the book. If you’re young, buy quality gear now. It’ll last you decades.
My second home.
Canada still looks the same across the ravine. I’ve taken this picture a million times.
Not sure why I take so many pictures of this place. I have all the same shots in old-fashioned photos in shoeboxes from the 90’s too. I’m absolutely captivated by this place.
Here I am sporting Blue Blockers, which I love!!! This is the Pigeon River. Canada is too my right.
Look at all that snow atop the privy! We never got to visit it. Due to some circumstances, we journeyed back home the next day.

This was just 12 days ago. Feels like years. I can’t believe how much life has changed since then. Imagine the culture shock if we were fortunate enough to stay back there all these days, only to arrive home at the current reality.

Thanks for listening. I’ve been a bit downcast these past few days, anxious about the future, uncertain about nearly everything. Writing this all down helps. Restaurants have cancelled orders, so I’ll have a lot of extra microgreens for tomorrow’s harvest. Let me know if you might want some pea shoots, radish shoots, or that Spring In Your Step mix I mentioned. I could potentially drop it off in your door or porch, receiving payment via credit card through an invoice or Paypal (no contact required).

The international border. 50 feet from the cabin.

Read more about the cabin in my book, or in numerous posts prior to this one (see the adventure and winter categories). Thanks again for listening. This has helped far more than I imagined.

I’ve been less communicative with the family than normal. Not having the energy to light a fire in the writing space atop my garage, I’m sitting at a desk in my bedroom that sits where my dresser formerly sat. Drastically cutting down the wardrobe made this possible, but that’s another story. I think I’m ready to open the door and enjoy dinner around our round table with the family. Afterwards we’ll brew a pot of tea and play Rummikub together, a favorite activity of my grandparents, who I miss so much I could just cry. Grandma was two years old when the Spanish flu hit (Grandpa was 6). Man, the stuff they lived through. I reckon we can make it through this.



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