Cape Blanco is the westernmost point in the contiguous United States and one of the windiest places in Oregon. Of course we arrive during a storm. We choose a site near the bluff, but we can barely see the ocean through the trees. We take the kids down the hill to an overlook. The wind is strong and the kids recoil. This is not comfortable. Let’s go back, they beg. That night the trees protect us from the wind but the rain comes down in buckets.
The next day I am running through the trees, trying to get oxygen into my blood and find brightness on this dreary day. I am happy to be out of the tiny trailer and alone with my thoughts. They are worried thoughts. How do we meet everyone’s needs with this lifestyle? How can we get work done on the online course without reliable internet? It is a puzzle my brain keeps working at.
I suddenly emerge through a portal in the trees out onto a cliff edge, the sea bashing into the rocks far below, and the wind slaps me in the face, bringing me back to the present moment. In the distance, a lighthouse flashes its warning, “Beware, the edge is near.” The beauty is raw, the forces are powerful, and I suddenly feel more alive.
I run towards the lighthouse, along a trail through the long grasses. I get to a parking lot but the gates are locked. I will not be deterred. I go around them, climbing the hill towards the lighthouse. A sign talks about how the lighthouse keeper and his assistants lived in a duplex and raised animals and vegetables to feed themselves and their families. I cannot imagine gardening in this wind.
Life on the edge is tough. It’s not always comfortable, and can be downright stressful at times. Sometimes I ask myself why we choose this. Why can’t we be content to live in a regular house and work regular jobs? Security, retirement, healthcare, and space sound really nice right now.
I have a friend who is also living on the edge. She quit her well-paid government job to start a dairy farm in New York state with her husband and little boy. At a time when dairies are closing across America, it seems like a crazy plan. But they are working together as a family. It is honest work and a healthy lifestyle. They are teaching their son to follow his dreams. It isn’t easy but they are succeeding.
We live on the edge because we want the best for ourselves, our family, and the planet. It may not seem logical, but we need to follow our dreams in order stay true to ourselves. We need to create work that fulfills us and gives back to the world. And although it is not easy, life on the edge can be fun, exciting, and fulfilling. It can offer perspectives that can’t be found from the comforts of our couch.
As I turn back towards the forest, a hard rain begins to pelt down, the wind whipping it into my face. I laugh and run faster. I run right to the edge of the cliff and marvel in the power of nature. I am reinvigorated by my brief adventure and reminder about the rewards of living life on the edge.