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The doorstep mile

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Friday March 12th - Värmland


Zoë takes the map out of the drawer, points her compass at the mountain hut, aligns the vertical lines of the compass with the map and reads the degrees. She checks that the direction is roughly correct and says, "That way today." Usually Olivier is the road captain and route planner, but this time Zoë is at the command. We go for a two-day snowshoe hike into the mountains. Our goal is an old firehouse on top of a mountain, right on the border of Värmland and Dalarna, two provinces in central Sweden. We have no route, but that is not necessary in the winter landscape, the whole world is accessible. On the map Zoë looks for obstacles along the way. There are a few lakes and two big rivers we have to cross. There are bridges over the rivers, the lake is hopefully frozen thick enough. "A little less than twenty kilometers, if we go in a straight line," Zoë concludes. Olivier nods approvingly and then gathers the food supplies.


At the end of January, we agreed to do at least one micro-adventure a month. For us, a micro-adventure means a short trek of at least two days on human power. Olivier barely said the words or he was already planning the first adventures. For him, it takes absolutely no effort to turn the words into action. He opens the front door and starts without a problem. For Zoe, that step is a lot bigger. She needs someone like Olivier to go with her and motivate her to really do it. It's not the lack of motivation and desire for the micro-adventures, it's the action to actually leave. In Norwegian they have a wonderful word for this threshold: dørstokmilla, the doorstep mile. It is the psychological threshold that we have to get over in order to go outside, to leave the comfort of the house behind, and set foot into nature. For some people this dørstokmilla is very short, for others the distance is much longer. Olivier said to Zoë, "You are organizing five micro-adventures this year. Bet you already want to leave next weekend." With the compass around her neck, the distance to the front door is particularly small for Zoë this time.


We hike through forests, across vast plains and frozen swamps. Our companions are the countless footprints of the animals we don't see. We know they are there, the footprints are proof, but they hide from the two strange hikers. We see tracks of moose, foxes, rabbits, wolverines and wolves. We feel part of nature, a bit like a wild animal, with the big difference that they have a compass in their heads and we get lost without one in our hands. Zoë walks ahead like a guide, regularly checking the direction, and is proud at every landmark we encounter on the map. She thoroughly enjoys the adventure where she is in charge of the route. At six o'clock in the evening we arrive at the fireman's hut. It is a beautiful hut with a fireplace, a table and two wooden benches on which we can sleep. In the evening we sit with our feet close to the fire. We try to dry our shoes and socks while enjoying the warm radiation. "Good huh, that we are doing this?" says Zoë. Since the beginning of February, this is the fourth micro-adventure. This is part of the life we envision with the right balance between work and adventure.


After two days in the mountains, we return to the warmth of "our" little red cabin. Tomorrow we have an important video call on the agenda. We call Mo-Media, a small publisher from Rotterdam who is interested in publishing our book. Going with the compass into the wilderness, with wolves and bears, no trails and -10 degrees during the day, feels like peanuts compared to the excitement we feel before the call. If the publisher is really interested, we might reach another milestone in our book. Uncertainty would turn into certainty, doubt into perspective. We crawled into our bed at eight o'clock, exhausted by two days of hiking, but also hoping that the morning would come sooner.

The tension and fear were not justified at all, just as fear is always greater than reality. We talk to a very interested publisher who would like to work together. When we leave the virtual meeting room, we look at each other, grinning for a moment. No contract has been signed yet, but we are confident that our compass is pointing in the right direction.

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