Someone once asked me,
“What would be your ideal office?”
That question immediately brought to mind a special spot in the Sierra Nevada Mountains at a rustic retreat camp that my husband and I had purchased about 15 years ago. We would pack our kids in the car and drive the six hours up the 99 to Fresno, CA where we would turn off and spend the next hour ½ on a winding road going up and up and landing in a pristine spot of wilderness, four miles
off of a plowed road in winter, smelling the crisp pine air, and finding real blue skies by day and starry skies of the milky way by night. The routine of opening up 2 locked gates always brought on the ending of the bustle of city life and stress, and the beginning of the slowing down of life- where I moved slower- spoke softer, smelled stronger, felt more connected to spirit, and the colors of the world seemed crisper and brighter. I was home.
As the kids grew and went off to college, my husband Jim and I tried to and more time to spend in our Shangri-La- inviting friends, creating retreat gatherings, and coming up with a plan to eventually live there entire summers until the worst snow fell in the fall. So, what does this have to do with my ideal of office? As we spent our time in the wilderness, we looked for ways to be able to stay there longer and keep up with our business and our work. There was no cell service available (let alone electricity- our water came from the stream with a pump that was run by a generator). If we wanted to check our e-mail or call our families, we would have to drive 25 minutes to the nearest town- knowing just where to pull off on the rustic road by the Boy Scout Camp. And there, the cell service would kick in. But that seemed to ruin our wilderness mojo. My husband spent a few years to no avail trying every antenna, booster, even a bag phone hoping to get a connection at the camp.
Then one day, I was taking a hike and I happened to bring my cell phone. Coming upon a clearing where there was a break in the trees down a canyon, I heard a beep, pulled out my phone, and couldn’t believe that I had enough bars to get a signal. I tried calling my mother in Los Angeles, and she picked up!
There was a wonderful rock right at the spot, and I dubbed it my office from that point on. I’d pack up my work in my daypack with a bottle of water and some snacks, and I trudge off about ½ mile from the camp until I came to that sacred spot. I’d sit there, and make my calls or listen to a live conference call, check my e-mail, and I would breathe in the air, watch the butterflies and hummingbirds, notice little bugs crawling in the dirt, and feel the mountain breeze on my face.
This was my ideal office- no walls, no cords, no clutter and nothing to clean. I’d pack up my empty snack bag, zip up my calendar and papers, and always take a few more minutes of delightful solitude just to clear away any residue of having connected with life and the city. Then stroll back to the camp to help start a campfire, stoke the hot fire, and cook something delicious.
I liked the days that I did not venture out to use my phone, but I was grateful for the connection when I needed to relate to the real world, and where I could work at my favorite office. It never felt like work though. I was happy on my rock in my wilderness office. As my good friend used to say, “If you love what you do, and you do what you love, you’ll never work a day in your life”