Monday, September 19, 2011

Camping: Differently Practical

We went camping recently with a group. Temperatures varied quite a bit, and it rained briefly on Saturday. A small tent was our primary shelter, furnished by sleeping bags and thin mats. The dog was out of sorts in the unfamiliar environment. The whole trip took extra time and energy and planning. We returned dirty and smelling like we hadn't showered for 2 1/2 days of camping.

Why do we do such things? It doesn't make "practical" sense.

The sky turning dark

Yet we were intentional in going, confident the experience would be worth it.

Much of my reason was to be with the others. Yeah, we could have all gotten together at someone's house and spent two days there but, for whatever reasons, we don't do that. So we all went camping instead. It took us away from our individual homes to more neutral space which "belonged" simultaneously to all of us and to none of us, where we shared space far more than when living in our geographically dispersed homes and, in the process, shared a little more of our selves.

A few of our camp-mates

There is something else about camping, too -- not being there simply in spite of the discomforts of nature, but also, in a way, because of them. When we go camping in the mountains, we place ourselves more directly in the path of nature. In the process, I can see more clearly the bigger picture beyond myself, beyond my relatively small corner of the world. Such experiences remind me there are many things we cannot control and should not try; sometimes our role is to just anticipate appropriately and to respond flexibly as needed in new situations.

Setting up a tarp shelter over the fire

The camping trip was not "practical" in the realms of finance and comfort, but it was important in a less tangible way, by shaping me a little more into the kind of person I want to become. It was a good weekend. I'm glad we went.

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