Whether it’s laughs, tears or silence, sauna is a place for whatever needs a little more space in your life. When I started working on The Firehouse three years ago, there was no way I could have known just how badly I would need the space I was creating.
As I was opening the door to The Firehouse, I was also closing the door on a fourteen-year relationship with my first love.
I finished the sauna just a few weeks before moving out. The sauna was my sanctuary, a place to honor and express my grief in private. It also gave me a way to reach out and connect with others, even if I only had enough energy to simply sit in silence. Sauna gave me a new community and a new relationship with quiet. I don’t know how I would have survived that period without either.
But this sauna meister is learning that sauna isn’t the answer to every major life transition.
After three years building a successful web development company, my business partner and dear friend decided to close the business and build a new career as a consultant. After a difficult period of restructuring, it felt like we were finally on track and building the business—and lives—of our dreams. Actually, we weren’t just on track: When I got the news, I was living ten minutes from Ipanema Beach in Rio De Janeiro with three of my best friends! Life was GOOOOOD!
The news took me by surprise. When the shock wore off, I told my friends I was thinking of going to Argentina to clear my head and ponder my next move. I remember my friend looking at me from the bottom of his caipirinha glass and saying, “Dude, it’s WINTER there right now!” He meant it as a helpful reminder and invitation to reconsider my destination. But his newsflash only sealed the deal. (After all, a sauna meister can only tolerate the beach for so long!)
After hundreds of glorious sauna rounds with The 612 Sauna Society, I closed The Firehouse in March and started traveling south, first to Nicaragua, then Colombia and Brazil. A second serving of winter in Argentina seemed like an appropriate way to bookend my trip! By the time I bought my ticket to Buenos Aires, this poetic notion had morphed into a three-month plan (Code name: Patagonia Express. Summary: building another mobile sauna and driving it to the National Snow Festival in Bariloche, Patagonia!) Within a few days of landing in Buenos Aires, I had found a truck and was already talking anyone and everyone who would listen onto my nordic bandwagon.
That was almost 4 weeks ago now, but I’m happy to report that the only progress I’ve made since is on the tango floor!
So, what happened?
The pace here in Argentina helped (i.e. forced) me sloowwwwww-the-fuck-dooowwwwwn and step off the Patagonian Express of my monkey mind to see what’s actually here in front of me. And guess what? It ain’t a city waiting for a nordic sauna! It’s a city bustling with its own beautiful traditions for wasting time with dignity.
When I FINALLY stopped and smelled the Malbec, I noticed classy cafes, parks and bookstores on almost every street corner full of people kicking back and taking a few moments to themselves.
I would be much more comfortable having a project to focus on right now, but it would simply be a shame to ignore everything that’s already right here in front of me by forcing this transition into the same cedar box that worked for me last time. A good sauna meister knows when to start a new fire!
Johnny Boy, some might say that your “‘brilliant” or “dashing”, a lethal pairing with that magnetic tractor beam personality.
I prefer to think of you as a “star-stuff stallion”, inspired by our friend Carl Sagan.
Thank you dear friend, for being your strange, beautiful, honest self.
Ha! You flatter well. I like it ☺️
Paul Helgeson told me a bit about the sauna society . I live on the river. What’s next?
Build a sauna–that’s what’s next, Philip ; )