mUD MOUNTAIN BLOG
Back in 2011, I found myself camping alone on a remote
Turkish hill. There was no power or water on the land.
It was the start of an adventure that profoundly changed
my beliefs about what is enjoyable, or possible...
Don't You Get Lonely?
“Don’t you get lonely up here?”
It has to be the question I hear most often whenever someone is intrepid enough to pay me a visit. True, that question make take a while to form.The journey to my home is a process after all. Tongues loll out as friends hike down the sun-broiled track. At the bottom they spot my earthroof, and my water tank skulking behind the undergrowth. A corner is turned. Hearts probably sink as my guests step past my compost heap on the right and a tower of dusty lime bags on the left. I admit the entrance needs some work. Finally the land is reached. The view rolls away from the visitors. It’s a fir-speckled rug of undulations unravelling down to the sea.
My earthbag house now looms. It's a circle of dirt poking out of the land like an upturned hat. There is often some analogy to the Smurfs at this point, and more pertinently to Smurfette.
My visitors take a peek inside. They imbibe the earthplaster sculptures, and again the view framed in the doorway. They become quiet. My land has a habit of quieting people, I’ve noticed that. The key is turned in imaginations, and visions move into gear. I think I know what my friends are thinking. Could I do this? Would I want to do this? And if I did this, what would I do differently?”
Sooner or later the question pops out. “Don’t you get lonely up here?”
And I don’t know how to answer it, because the answer I give always sounds trite. No. I NEVER get lonely. But this isn’t because I’m a freak, nor a Buddha, nor even Smurfette. I’ve felt lonely many times in my life; lonely in crowds, lonely at parties, lonely when I didn’t fit in, and loneliest of all in romantic relationships. But it’s difficult to explain why there’s no loneliness here in the mountains unless you experience it. I think loneliness is the sensation of not being accepted for who you are. It is also a feeling of disconnectedness, of not fitting in. And here snuggled in the arms of pure nature, where the judgments of other humans are inaudible, I am accepted. I am whole. I fit in.
I am also never alone. It might look as though I’m alone if you think aloneness is merely the absence of other human beings. But I’m not. I’ve become very clear about that over the last two years. The land and every living entity in it communes with me. It is obvious. But only if you are quiet. And only if you meet it half way. People scoff at the idea of plants and insects possessing any kind of sophisticated sentience. I would certainly agree that it’s a self-fulfilling prophecy. So you can choose. Either you see life and love in all things, or you don’t. Either you reach out to the trees and the lizards, and let them speak to you, or you focus blindly on humanity as the only source of intelligence and filter your ability to connect accordingly. It’s a free world. It’s a choice.
But when you do give nature a chance, when you ratchet up the sensitivity dial inside you and tune in, magic blooms. Vegetable plants burgeon before your eyes, trees pour energy into you, vipers leave you alone, and camel spiders begin to look charming. Whether it’s pheromones, energy fields or some sort of shared consciousness I have no idea. I only know that attitude is everything. The moment you treat any living being with respect, when you
consider it as your partner or friend or equal, when you genuinely care for it, that being transforms. And conversely when you mock, abuse, fear or disregard the same thing, it disengages from you or attacks you.
So when the sun sinks a little lower behind the great pines, and the coffee pot is empty, my visitors make their way up the track and back to the world out there. As dusk rises and does away with the shadows, the plants begin to glow. It’s an ensorcelling colour green they emit at that hour, a light that evokes Narnias and Secret Gardens. I begin my watering ritual. As my vegetable patch shudders under my simulation of rain, I feel a sense of connection and well-being I rarely experience with people. It seems to radiate through the pores in my skin and fill up the entire garden. This land is a part of me, and I’m a part of it. This has made me understand my place on the planet too, a
place of connected participation.
I see the first street lamp pierce the evening down in Alakir bay. I imagine the prattle and the gossip down there, the noise of humans and their desperate clamour for attention, the competitiveness, the condemnations hidden in the creases of smiles, the obsessive need to be right, the disguised slights, the guilt-tripping, the empty talk about nothing. Perhaps not all human interaction is quite this negative, but when you pull the façade off most conversations, how many are really based on mutual respect, kindness and caring? How many make you feel truly
Then it’s my turn to ask. I whisper into the wind, and let it carry my words all the way over to the lights at sea-level. “Don’t you get lonely down there?”
20/9/2013 05:44:40 am
I love your blog!! I have lived the boonies of Panama sola for the last 6 years. I also have been educating myself to earthbag building for the last few years and will use this method for any future structures on my ranch.
20/9/2013 01:38:32 pm
Thank you so much for your comments Claudia. Good luck with your earthbag buildings on your ranch. They're great structures. Warm and cosy, or cool and dry. And if you're ever back on the Turkish Riviera let me know.
2/10/2013 12:41:58 am
There is joy in work. There is no happiness except in the realization that we have accomplished something.
20/10/2013 11:19:25 pm
Isn't it amazing at what a little bit of quiet and a lot of listening can do. I so enjoyed reading this. I'm venturing out on a similar journey, and you've encouraged me that much more.
21/10/2013 11:53:19 am
Thank you for your generous comments Tarihira. Enjoy your journey. Ah I almost wish I could do it all again:)
26/12/2013 10:59:02 pm
Deep breath, exhale, gratitude.
14/1/2014 10:40:08 pm
This entry gives me shivers. I have had brief experiences of connection with land and plants and animals, and long to live in the kind of embedded relationship with land that you describe. I know I would be changed by the experience, as I suspect you have been. Blessings on your journey, and deep gratitude for sharing it with us.
13/12/2014 04:51:52 pm
This answered the question I have been asking in my mind all night. I lived like you do, once. I remember it well, though I was lonelier than you seem to be, not all the time but occasionally. You write so vividly!
9/4/2015 09:13:00 am
Loved your words written about loneliness. Thank you.
29/7/2015 05:11:50 pm
Kerry, I have land in Missouri, USA. and am looking forward to the day i will be there. I don't know if earth bags would work for me but I'm willing to give it a shot.I just found your webbie today and love it already.Blessings, from god sent to you, your words sound inspired by the bible. Live a simple, thoughtful, kindly, loving life. that is what i also seek. i will be reading this blog often.
5/8/2015 09:15:11 am
Thank you for sharing a part of your life and your journey. I came across your website as I was doing a little research for a similar journey I'm about to embark on. I have land that has been passed on to me. I've been wanting to live "off the grid" for quite some time now and I'm finally taking that leap.
Thank you for your lovely comment Grace.This is one of the most well read blogs posts I've written, I think because deep down it's the 'alone' thing we're afraid of. I've never felt alone since I set foot on this spot, and I'm sure your square of the Earth will hold you just the same:)
5/10/2015 04:47:12 am
5/10/2015 10:05:27 am
18/10/2015 04:56:21 am
hello I wonder a great source to purchase the bags?? I am going to do a wall and several buildings soon...Aloha
12/12/2016 08:50:07 pm
WHAT NICE AFFIRMATIONS OF LIFE!!!!I NOW DO NOT MENTION TO MY FRIENDS OR RELATIVES ABOUT LIVING ALONE ON MY MOUNTAIN BECAUSE THEY ONLY HAVE NEGATIVE COMMENTS. I HAVE A RANCH IN THE BAJA WITH OLD PALM TREES AND MANGOS AND CACTI. I WILL SSON BE BUILDING MY 16 FOOT EARTHBAG HOUSE AND HAVE MY LANDROVER, MOTORBIKE AND MY GERMAN SHEPHERD, TOTAL PARADISE THAT MOST GREEDY FASHION CONSCIOUS ME ME ME PEOPLE JUST DO NOT UNDERSTAND, REALLY ENJOY YOUR TRUE TO EARTH EXPLANATIONS, BEST PERSONA L REGARDS
12/1/2017 09:21:30 pm
Cheers Denny! Yes, people do so often have a negative attitude towards solitude, presumably because they're scared of it:0)
Thank you Atulya. What a delightful post and thank you for your book. I have lived in remote places for the last 8 years, alone. I only feel lonely when some people show up with all of their ideas disconnected to Earth. But I never tire of the company of those still connected to MUD. Thank you!
14/1/2018 01:18:29 pm
Oh hello there Caminante! I missed your comment. But thank you!
8/2/2018 06:50:46 pm
What a lovely post. I live in the bush in Australia. It's not as scenic as your place but I lived in the bush as a child so I love it. (Not the ticks, or scorpions, or centipedes.)
8/2/2018 11:56:34 pm
Yes I lived alone on Mud Mountain for 5 years and they were the happiest, most fulfilling and creative of my entire life. I had to leave recently, and am searching a new, even more remote, wilder space in the hills or northern Spain:)
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Atulya K Bingham
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