whether i’m suited to working alone by nature or by habit, i spend a lot of time by myself. i run to the garden or the woods or the fields when my mind is overworked, my body is understimulated, or my heart is full and heavy. consciousness fades when i’m solitary and busy and i become a happy little machine. my tools become extensions of my limbs. thoughts happen so deep that i’m not aware of them. cut this. dig that. move these, all wordless in the swirling twilight of the subconscious.

i suspect that the bulk of my ability to transcend purposeful thought through work is hyperfocus, a common trait in those with ADHD. some of it is familiarity and peace with my tasks, my tools, and my body. and, unfortunately, some is probably the desire to escape real life for a while, a life that increasingly feels short, complicated, chaotic, and aimless.

i have tried to remember a time when i worked amiably with someone to common purpose and the memories are distant enough that i start to equivocate with them.

and, then, today, i had an accomplice for a few hours in the woods. a friend came to visit for the day with sturdy shoes and gloves. we packed up saws and loppers and walked out into the midmorning light with violence in our souls. we worked individually at first, only communicating when a tree was about to fall or to check in after one of us yelped.

“you okay?”


i lured her into some questionable behavior, as i tend to do. we swung down on cut trees caught in the branches of their neighbors, bodily tackled punky old snags, and narrowly escaped death from a towering widowmaker, celebrating all our victories and escapes with smug high fives. we broke a pair of loppers, took hard branch whips across our faces, swore like truckers, and filled our shoes with humus and sawdust. it was fun. not escapist or focused or familiar or peaceful. fun. we marched homeward, lunch on our minds, dirty and juiced with adrenaline and accomplishment.

i still want to work alone. it is a form of meditation and a safe space to be animalistic and intuitive. i like spending time with myself. i have interesting thoughts and salty things to say. i laugh easily and genuinely at my own jokes, which are all terrible and not fit to be examined by intelligent humans. i can sing loudly and badly over the hum of the saw and cuss corrosively at inanimate objects. but i’ve seen another way now and i think it’s an extremely good one.

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