Our modern technology-filled lives are … well, quite different from all the people who have lived before us. Today’s lives are full of complications, turmoil, with everything happening at breakneck speed. Most of us have more “stuff” than we know what to do with – we even have TV shows to teach us how to get rid of things! And with all this new-found clutter comes contradictory urges that we should somehow get away from it all.
There are entire industries and schools of thought about how to accomplish just that. Getting away. For the human spirit, one might think such instructions aren’t necessary – simply let go of all the stuff you are desperately clinging to! Then you could truly get away, mentally and spiritually. But physically, where do you go to escape the confines of today’s modern stifling life?
In Filson and Finback Films’ short video, Open Door to Solitude, we meet 68-year-old Ed Zevely, who has some answers. He is happiest as a lonely camper, high up in Colorado’s Rocky Mountains, just him, his dog, and a couple of horses. Alone with nature, he can be blissfully at peace. In the city, he feels like an outcast, a stranger – life somehow just isn’t right for him. While he knows this is selfish because his children and grandchildren are there, the city and people close in on him. After a couple of days, he needs to return to the solidarity of the high country.
Zevely has certainly found his own answers … but not in the way you think. Not at all. This isn’t a tired story of a man needing to get away from it all. This is a depiction of a man who is actually going to where everything is! “The first time we got into the high country, it was like walking through a door.” And when he walked through that door, he found himself surrounded by everything he needed, everything he wanted. He doesn’t go to the mountains to leave things behind, he goes to the mountains to be where he belongs.
Zevely relates that when he was young, all he ever wanted was a horse. His Uncle John in Washington state had some, and he grew up around them, but it wasn’t until the age of 50 that he finally had his first horse. Maybe with the passage of time, his true heart’s desires sifted their way to the top. No one lives forever … if this isn’t the right time to have a horse, when? Perhaps 60 years of age, or 70? If you put off your dreams forever, you let them slip away.
The passage of time is on his mind. He doesn’t feel it mentally or spiritually, but he feels changes in his muscles and bones. “Maybe I’ve got ten summers left … in my life!” And he doesn’t want to waste them. He doesn’t want to spend them feeling like an outsider in bustling modern America. He needs to spend them alone in the Colorado high country, where he is truly at home.
He camps for two weeks at a time, just him and his animals. “Every trip, every day, is an adventure.” The comfortable pace of the video affords him the time he needs to express his thoughts, and in some of the poignant pauses, you can see the deeply-held beliefs slowly forming into words. “I’m never afraid up there … if I die, it’s a beautiful place to die.” He faces life realistically, accepting that any given day might be his last, and in the beautiful, heavenly mountain tops, that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
Solitude in nature, of course, is a relative term. The Colorado Rockies are teeming with life, and one might feel that the weather itself can be a companion of sorts, moody and unpredictable, sometimes even dangerous. In any case, for companionship, Ed always has his horses and his dog. He waited for well over half his life to finally get one, but now, as he says, he’s making up for lost time with them.
There is an affinity between man and beast, which certain scenes in the video subtly hint at. We watch Ed working carefully to brush down a steaming horse before putting on the saddle … his own hands rough and grubby, but the horse standing in its immaculate, gleaming coat. He spends his time carefully adjusting the various straps and saddle blanket, knowing both he and the horses are part of a team. We watch him get fresh water, one container for himself and another for his trusty dog that dutifully follows everywhere, another key member of his group. So in a way, Ed shares his scenic, idyllic mountain adventures every day, but he has chosen to do so with his animals rather than with fellow humans.
Open Door to Solitude turns the familiar story of returning to nature upside down. The modern person is supposed to be so fed up with life’s complexities that one randomly runs off to nothingness, leaving everything behind. But to Ed Zevely, it’s the modern life that is the nothingness, and he constantly yearns to walk back through that door, back to where everything for him is waiting, where his only important goal is to move and breathe – to simply exist. There he can be at peace, alone and tranquil, knowing that each day brings a new adventure.
Established in Seattle in 1897 to outfit prospectors headed for the Yukon, the company’s 123-year legacy is built upon its reputation for honesty, quality and durability. Filson’s long-lasting gear is the choice of explorers, adventurers, ranchers, hunters, anglers, engineers and anyone with a passion for the outdoors. Over a century after its founding, the Filson headquarters remain in Seattle, Washington.