Behind our family house there's a cabin. Built in 1898, it is the original structure that occupied this property when our suburban neighborhood was still a Northwest wilderness. It served as a hunting cabin and it still shows the rustic, no frills qualities you would expect in a structure built in the woods for the very practical purpose of providing shelter to cold, wet hunters - a bunk, room for a table and couple chairs, a fireplace at one end, a single door, no windows.
I love this cabin. It’s the kind of place that still shows evidence of the hands that built it. Beautiful imperfections in the hand-hewn timbers of the walls, a dip in the floor here and there, boards that creak under your feet and a silence inside it that seems timeless. I'm reminded each time I enter that this cabin is the result of hours, weeks, maybe years of devotion. But as practical as its original purpose may have been, there's also evidence that it was, even 118 years ago, a place to retreat from the hustle of the work world, to focus on different pursuits, and to recharge. My favorite feature of the cabin is the hand-carved wooden plaque that hangs just outside the door. It greets each visitor with this message:
GUEST you are welcome here,
be at your ease,
get up when you are ready,
go to bed when you please.
Happy to share with you such as we've got.
The leaks in the roof, the soup in the pot.
You won't have to thank us or laugh at our jokes,
Sit deep and come often, you're one of the folks.
I think we all need a cabin like this. Even if your cabin is a kitchen table, a friend's back deck, or a walk with your dog, it's important we each have a place we can go to feel welcome, to welcome others, to pause and be at our ease outside the parts of our lives that make us hustle.
It seems it gets harder each year to find places and moments for that kind of reflection and connection. We all work hard. We're all connected to our phones, becoming digital humans focused on getting more and more done faster and faster. But all this we're focused on doing, what do we do it for?
During the holidays, I find myself reflecting on the kind of person I want to be, and the kind of company I want for our team and for our customers. My greatest pleasure is working with people and companies that give me the feeling that we are all still genuine humans working together, and subconsciously taking care of each other, in a way connecting to the words on the cabin door.
I want to thank our team, and our customers, and our vendors for another successful and enjoyable year. I wish everyone a smashing 2017. But first, I hope you'll all have a chance to let this holiday season be your quiet cabin, even if for just a short time. Sit deep, get up when you're ready, and always remember, we are each one of the folks.