This post began as a basic blog entry about what I did this past week at my family’s vacation cabin in the Appalachian Mountains. As I was re-reading what I had written, I realized the whole thing sounded bland. I didn’t create much content to turn what I “did” into a blog post – nor did I feel pressure to. It dawned on me that this unplugged way of living was a liberating relief from some of the harsh realities I’ve been experiencing lately, and that is precisely why I love the mountains so much. I was truly able to relish in the splendor of nature and remind myself that its simplicity is the reason I love it here so much.
Ever since my parents bought a vacation cabin in 2005, I have always considered the Appalachian Mountains my second home. During my summers as a young, impressionable child, we lived here for several months at a time. I participated in many enriching activities like attending a local folk-art school to learn wood carving and quilting methods (yes – really!), hiking lush and secluded trails miles from civilization, soaking in magnificent scenery, learning about the indigenous culture, recognizing the power of white water, and surveying wildlife. I carried all of these lessons with me to adulthood; and although now I consider myself an urban dweller and with a career-driven attitude, I find solace in the uncomplicated lifestyle of the mountains. I think many decades from now I would love to retire somewhere like this.
One of the beautiful things about being in the mountains is that no one keeps a watch. There is absolutely no rush to anything. You can drive for over an hour and not realize it because you were too busy soaking in blanketed peaks, restful meadows, roaring rivers, and endearing architecture.
The people here are farmers who sell their produce in handmade stands. A refreshing sweet peach in the sweltering heat of summer or hardy, winter squash in the crisp fall is readily available fresh off the vine. There are many artisans who spend their days unbothered while creating beautiful works of visual art. There are boutique owners who sell local crafts and restaurant chefs who make you feel right at home. In the mountains, there are no big parties to rub elbows at, no corporate 9-5’s, no extravagant materialism, and no stress to bust your ass off. People live simply and without worry.
Although I don’t think it’s bad to be financially and career-oriented, I occasionally need a reminder to slow down and reflect on the “bigger picture”. My days here always have this quaint magic to them. I spend a lot of time meditating by breathing in the unpolluted air, listening to Earths natural symphony, and letting myself gravitate back towards the ground. These quiet moments help me reflect on my core values and not stress so much about my next paycheck or move.
However, don’t mistake the quaint lifestyle here as a lack of entertainment or meaning. There is an endless array of hobbies to get yourself into. If you want a thrill, book a trip white water rafting down the Ocoee or Nantahala River. If you want serenity, go hiking on one of the thousands of trails hidden in the surrounding national parks. If you’re into astronomy, take some time to stargaze and teach yourself how to read the dazzling sky. If you want to pick up a new art form, there are plenty of studios and schools to perfect your craft. I could write a whole itinerary for anyone wanting to visit this area, and one day I will, but this trip was all about meditation and staying relaxed.
I truly believe that it’s important for everyone to find a place of pure peace to let their spirit recharge. Life isn’t all sunshine and rainbows no matter how optimistic you try to be – sometimes it can feel as if it has thrusted you overboard with a brick tied to your feet. For me, the mountains help me remember how much love, joy, and simple happiness there is in the world. As I grow older I learn to appreciate quiet days spent reading on the porch or walking through the woods, and hope to one day inspire more people to enjoy the humble majesty of the mountains too.