Creative Nonfiction Inspirational

Welcome to the end of your world.

No need to worry - you’ve done plenty of that throughout your life already. This isn’t some doomsday apocalypse like you see in the movies or read about in books. The world is still spinning, all the things you hold dear still exist - only we’ve removed them from you for the next ten days.

This end of the world will be for you only, your own personal experience. This is your chance to start living your life anew.

Notice that the cabin you’ll be staying in is off the grid. That means no connection to society and civilization of any kind. No electricity, no internet, no plumbing, no food delivery, no garbage disposal.

No phone service.

As far as the rest of humanity is concerned, you do not exist. Nobody knows you’re here, not even your friends and family - you haven’t told them where exactly you’re going, so there’s no chance they’ll come to take you back before the ten days are up.

Here, you’re all alone. You even had to leave the car a mile back as the path to the cabin is inaccessible by car. The nearest person is some 100 miles away, probably another off-grinder or a wilderness enthusiast. 

There is a stream running nearby, so you’ll have plenty of water. Though you’ll have to walk a little to get to it. You’ve also got plenty of food you brought with you - carrying it from the car to the cabin has been quite the workout. Who would’ve thought a person required so much food for ten days? And it’s all vegetables and fruit - no meat, no sugar, no salt, no processed foods. All natural. You’ll want your mind and body free of toxins for what you’ll be doing here.

Don’t worry about storage. Even though there’s no fridge in the cabin - since there’s no electricity - it gets plenty cold outside so you won’t need one. 

Speaking of cold, you better get a fire going and keep it up all night lest you want to freeze to death. There is a stack of firewood outside, left by the owner, but it will probably run out before you leave, so you might need to chop some more. That’s good, exercise will help keep you warm and sharpen the mind. Just don’t make it a distraction.

Ah, distractions. You’ll find few of those here; at least not the ones you’re used to. There’s no electronic for hundreds of miles around - save for the emergency phone you keep in your car. You have no laptop, no smartphone, no smartwatch, no tablet, no battery-powered TV or radio, not even a clock. All you’ve got is a flashlight, so you can see your way to the toilet at night. Yes, the toilet is built within the cabin, so you won’t have to go outside, freezing.

You don’t even have books or magazines, no crosswords to pass the time, no paper and pencils to write or draw, no guitar or sax to play. Those are all distractions. You want to get rid of distractions - all of them. 

That’s why you’ve removed yourself from the world; here there are no people telling you what to do, no boss, no coworker, no employee. There are no family members, no friends, no spouses or neighbors. No parties to go to, no work to do. No hobbies, no recreation, no entertainment. No fitness, no exploring the outdoors, no creative endeavors. No doing. 

Essentially, you’ll be spending ten days here, all by yourself with nothing to do but to be. Just you and your mind.

Sounds like torture? It probably will be. 

But the alternative is no longer acceptable. Your old life is no longer a sustainable way to live. You can’t take it anymore; the constant stress, self-criticism, crippling anxiety, the fakeness and the suffering you endure. You want to be happy, to be free, but you don’t know how. You’ve been chasing those for your whole life, yet they always slipped through your hands like grains of sand. 

It feels like all your life you’ve been living someone else’s life, not yours. Like you’ve been doing it all wrong but didn’t know any better. You’ve come to realize that you don’t know yourself, don’t know who you are - the real you. Sure, you know your masks and the faces you present to people. You know the stories that you tell yourself, you know the things that you believe in.

But how much of that is truly yours and how much of it has been put in your mind and heart by others? How much of it is real and authentic to you and how much of it is fake?

You can’t separate yourself from your thoughts anymore - they’ve got a hold on you. You’re thinking all the time, unable to sleep at night. You’ve lost touch with your ability to feel anything, preferring apathy and numbness to the painful sting of fear, anger and regret. 

But by shutting out all emotions, you also shut out happiness.

By identifying with your thoughts, you lost yourself in them.

By living in constant bombardment of distractions, obligations, things to do and things to be, your soul’s been run over by a bulldozer, the keys to which you’ve lost.

It’s time for a reset. 

You intuitively know that life is a miracle - that the way you’ve been living up until now is not how it’s supposed to be, and you want to get in touch with that. To be a kid again, when all the world was nothing but pure magic. Where everything was fresh and new, and every single day was another mystery to be explored, another call to adventure.

Today, every day is a mundane repetition derived from the scraps of the previous one. What happened? Where did magic become mundane? Why? How? 

Can it be brought back?

Surely it can - you’ve seen glimpses of it in other people. Individuals who seem happy and fulfilled with life and themselves. People who look as though they can see magic all around them, from the foam in their coffee to the spiraling galaxies observed in space. People who, no matter what is happening in their lives and the world around them, can accept it and turn agony into bliss. 

Maybe it’s just them, maybe they’re just special in some way and you’re not - your logic tells you that. But you can’t shake the feeling that you’ve been listening to logic all too much lately. All logical reasoning is made off of a pre-established premise - but if that premise is wrong, then no amount of reason and logic can provide the right answer.

You need to assess your premise for life. What is life really and what are you alive for? Who are you and what do you want - and why?

You cannot rely on anything anyone has ever told you. Nothing you’ve heard from people, be it the wisest of scientists or the humblest of gurus, the well-intended word of a friend or the helpful advice of a parent, none can be taken at face value. No book, no lecture, no holy scripture will ever tell you the answers you seek. They are not written out there in the world somewhere. 

The only way to find them is to derive them for yourself and by yourself. No regurgitation of beliefs or assumptions. No stating of learned facts or hypotheses. 

From scratch. From direct experience.

That’s why you’ve come here, to this cabin. Out here, you have no models of reality, no beliefs about yourself, other than what you brought with you in your mind. You’ve removed yourself from the physical influences, now it’s time to remove the ones planted in your mind.

Memories are not experience - they are ideas in your head. Ideas are not experience - they are concepts, models, frames. Thinking is not experiencing - it is getting lost in the mind. Justification of facts is not experience - it is more ideas in your head. Asking for divine help is not experiencing - it is more beliefs. Beliefs about experience is not experience - it is yet more ideas in your head.

Experience is simply this.

What is.

It is the only thing you have that you know is real because you have it in your direct experience. 

Notice that if you try, you can observe a thought. You can think it and you can observe yourself thinking of it. That is direct experience.

Feeling an emotion coursing through you and noticing it - that is experience.

Looking at things and objects as they are, not ascribing meaning or purpose or quality to them - that is experience. 

Direct experience is literal, it’s actual, it’s what’s truly there. Not what you think is there, or what you imagine is there, or what you wish was there. What really is.

And this is what you’ll be doing for the next ten days. You’ll be alone in this cabin, doing nothing but sitting and having a direct experience of life. Connecting with the magic that you once felt as a child. Connecting with what is and always has been, yet you’ve lost track of it at some point in your life.

Re-assessing your life. Who you are. What reality is. What is true and what is imagination. What you want out of life and why - what even is this thing, called life. 

And when the ten days are up, you will return to your ‘normal life’. But you will not be the same. You might get some answers or you might not. You might end up distracting yourself with all sorts of things, or you might spend the ten days diligently experiencing. You might spend ten days in complete depression or you might have an existential crisis. Or you could have the best ten days of your life and commit to doing this at least once a year for the rest of your life.

Either way, something will happen, something will shift and you will be able to carry that into your old life, transforming it. It may not be a drastic change. It could be as subtle as realizing how foolish it is to get angry in traffic. Or it could be realizing that you have been given a miracle of life and you’ve been wasting it up until now, taking it for granted.

Your realization will be personal and unique to you. It will be your job to figure out what to do with it. Know only that your old life - your friends, family, society, job, beliefs, thoughts, emotions, addictions… - will try to pull you back in. You mustn’t let them. You can pull them to your new realization if that is appropriate or you can simply let them go their way, while you go yours.

It is a gift you give to yourself, doing this. It’s only ten days - what are ten days out of a year? Some people spend that much time in a month, playing video games or browsing online. They spend it to play magicians in games, while you’ll be spending it to connect to true magic, which is life.

Are you ready?

January 20, 2021 18:47

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Cassandra Durnin
18:34 Jan 21, 2021

Hi! Found you from Jason Parker, and then read your bio. You sound like my type of person, so I clicked randomly and hit this story. It was, to say the least, astounding. The description and the writing style made me actually want to go isolate myself in a cabin for ten days. I love this!


Harken Void
08:03 Jan 22, 2021

Hey Cassandra! Thanks for stopping by; I'm glad to hear the story resonated with you. It's a little fantasy of mine to one day go do this - hopefully soon :)


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Masha Kurbatova
02:10 Jan 21, 2021

love this! pulls you right in.


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