The Art of ‘Smoothing It’ in Struggleville

by Todd Walker

Whether physical, mental, or spiritual, your comfort zone is an oasis of low anxiety, little risk, and predictable outcomes. It’s that place which offers protection, real or perceived, from the scary unknowns of life.

Welcome to Struggleville: Now Entering Your Un-Comfort Zone

You’re entitled to comfort, right?

Well, yes, to some degree.

We all have comfort zones and comfort items we’d hate to do without. These places and things are needed for maintenance, rest, and recuperation.

However, they often turn into self-made snares. For some of us, stepping one toe outside our comfort zone would be like passing a kidney stone.

Here’s the thing…

More comfort does not necessarily equate to survivability. We need stretching, bending, tearing, ripping to grow. It’s the struggle, plain and simple, that brings new life. Babies aren’t born without pain.

But, like my bug out bag or bushcraft kit, my philosophy and mindset evolve the more time I spend Doing the Stuff. The process can only happen by entering Struggleville. And yes, Struggleville is an actually “town” in GA.

The Art of 'Smoothing It' in Struggleville

Struggleville is real!

Metaphorically, Struggleville is the place you live. The place where life is forged – good or bad – peaceful or hectic. The place where kids cry, bosses fire, mistakes are made, and life lessons are caught.

Welcome to Struggleville!

It’s located in the valley, not the mountain top. You’ll never climb your mountain, learn that new skill, or build self-confidence living in your comfort zone.

Here’s the danger of never venturing outside your warm, fuzzy boundaries…

  • You stop growing
  • You stop learning
  • You stop doing

It’s easy to talk yourself into staying put in your comfort zone. You look around at those who have reached optimal success in your field and your tempted to set your bar to their height. They make it look easy. Nothing wrong with aiming high, but your heroes didn’t magically reach the top. They learned to smooth it in Struggleville.

As “Nessmuk” (aka – George Washington Sears) so eloquently wrote in Woodcraft and Camping,

We do not go to the green woods and crystal waters to rough it, we go to smooth it. [Emphasis mine]

Nessmuk was referring to our ability to enjoy the great outdoors. But his statement applies to all areas of preparedness. Learning to smooth it takes practice. Skills aren’t developed by just reading about how to. The smoothing it process requires “dirt time.”

In a survival situation, dirt time pays off. Whether it’s wilderness survival or homesteading, you must trade theory for action. The only way to get dirt time is by Doing the Stuff!

Here’s my latest project.

The idea came from a video by Chris Kane on Pathfinder TV on how to build a semi-permanent trapping shelter. Cool project! I decided I needed one for base camp. It’s a weekend project I work on when I get a chance.

The Art of 'Smoothing It' in Struggleville

Frame almost complete. It will sleep two comfortably with room for gear.

DSCN0412

The overhang on the front was made from 32″ poles lashed to the ridge beam.

DSCN0414

Here are the main tools used to construct the shelter: (L to R) limb saw in black sheath, almost free ax I re-helved, and a Wetterlings belt ax. Other tools used but not pictured are my Swiss Army Knife (for lashings), Bacho Laplander folding saw, and a WWII trench shovel.

Also, I used 36# tarred bank line for lashing material. I’ll probably re-lash the main frame with a more robust natural fiber rope.

DSCN0416

Wild grape-vine is woven between the lean-to poles for stability and to help hold debris on top. I’ll use a tarp on top of a layer of pine bows for the roofing. Then I plan to cover the tarp with debris.

As Nessmuk wrote, we don’t go to the woods to rough it, we go to smooth it. And we learn the art of smoothing it by going to Struggleville.

I’ll update you with my first night in the shelter. Ought to be a blast!

Keep Doing the Stuff,

Todd

P.S. – You can also keep up with the Stuff we’re Doing on TwitterPinterestGoogle +, and our Facebook pageReady to trade theory for action? Join us in the Doing the Stuff Network on these social media sites: PinterestGoogle +, and Facebook. Use the hashtag #DoingTheStuff when sharing your stuff on Twitter.

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Thanks for sharing the stuff!

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Categories: Bushcraft, Doing the Stuff, Self-reliant, Survival Skills | Tags: , , , , | 8 Comments

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8 thoughts on “The Art of ‘Smoothing It’ in Struggleville

  1. MorrisB

    Nice. But something you wouldn’t build for just a night or two. How long will it take (built to your standards) take to build?

    • Right, Morris. This isn’t a simple emergency shelter. Those can be built quickly and with little material resources. I’m hoping to spend my first night in a completed shelter by the end of March.

      I only work on it maybe one day a week by myself. With a few extra hands, it could be built in a weekend with resources available. That’s humping it though.

  2. Todd, that’s a wonderful shelter! I’m looking at dumping my high-tech camping gear this spring and building from local materials and garbage. (There’s lots of garbage in the forestlands around here.)

    • Thanks, Caroline! Yep, I found a plastic 5 gallon bucket in a broke down hunting blind not far from this shelter. I use the bucket for stuff around the camp and plan on using the blind material to incorporate into the roof. Be sure to post some pics. :D

  3. Chewylouie

    I have been working on a hut of sorts for my new blacksmithing endeavor. Since I live on a farm with old barns and stuff, there is lots of scrap metal and I have some oak fire wood and an old stove and a piece of rail road track. Went digging in a barn and found a nice rack to put everything on. Then all I needed was a place to setup. So I intend to setup an open on all sides hut to work under. Building semi-perminant shelter is much more difficult than any other type.

    • Ah, building a smithy! I’ve been interested in blacksmithing for some time now. I’ve dabbled in it with a few friends. I’d like to start making my own blades.

      Keep us posted on your progress, Chewy.

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