Considering that camping season is soon upon us I thought I would share a few things regarding this. When I was young I found that life was full of adventure. I would enjoy the mere prospect of discovering something new. I still do to a degree. I find that new things, new concepts, new experiences are fun for the most part, as long as they make sense to me. Change for the sake of change itself is not progressive enough to catch my interest or my participation. After all, we really do not have to reinvent the wheel.
Part of my discovery of adventure when I was young had to do with camping. I loved the prospect of being out in nature, communing with the birds and animals, eating burgers that were cooked on the fire, drinking coffee that was made over the fire as well. For me it was NEVER about partying. I was always very respectful of the environment. I would prefer to be camping away from everyone else in the world as opposed to where there were other campsites. That way no one would be disturbed by the party people in the next campsite. It took me a while to find out that, without a designated campsite, it is actually categorized as “trespassing.” So the more I wanted to go camping, the more remote a location I would find.
When I went to live with my sister for the last year and a half of my high school, she told me that if I wanted to go camping she had a military grade tent that I could use. That tent accommodated 6 people. It was wonderful to be able to pitch a tent that big and have a couple of friends with me for a weekend or a week or whatever. Later, when I was in the army reserves, we were being taught how to pitch a military tent. I dove in and had that thing erected within three minutes. Everyone was amazed that I did it with no trouble whatsoever. I explained that my sister was in the military and that I had been setting up a military tent since I was 17 years old.
Fast forward to now, when I am 56 years old. Yes. I know. I don’t look that old. But I am. My life experience should land me at about 102 years of age, but nonetheless I am a very young 56. But I have noticed changes within me.
No longer do I get all excited about the prospect of camping. Now, after several injuries to my body from numerous rear endings from other drivers, from an end-over-end car rolling, and from sports, and from horseback riding mishaps, and from physical abuse as a child…the list goes on and on…I am no longer able to camp in the same way. If I were to try that, I would end up crippled for weeks. Even with blow up matresses my body aches and seizes up. Sleeping under the stars? I would love to, but no, I cannot do that anymore. So when someone asks me if I would like to go camping my response is usually something in the neighbourhood of, “If by ‘camping’ you mean that I will have a view of the forest from my hotel room, then I am all in.”
My partner’s family has a cabin at a lake about 3 hours away. I love to spend time there. Yes, it is amongst other cabins and such, and yes there are often late parties followed by exceptionally early risers in the form of loud children who yell and scream at each other as they walk down the street between cabins. But at least I get to go canoeing and we can sit by a fire in the evening and play music and sing. The bed leaves MUCH to be desired. I often wake up stiff and sore from cramping into a bed that was designed for very little people and has no padding of which to speak. So this, for me, is definitely roughing it. But really, what is one to expect from a cabin experience? This is a second location that is completely seasonal in nature. So of course there won’t be comfortable chairs or beds. There will, however be fresh air and hiking and the lake. As long as it does not rain for 10 solid days (that actually did happen and that cabin became extremely small in that time period) then we are good as gold. And yes, there is definitely a view of the forest from the front porch.
As time goes on, I wonder what I will feel about camping as I get even older. I can speculate that, for me, camping will perhaps consist of sitting on my back deck in the shade of the gazebo and sipping coffee or rum and watching the birds as they twitter away in the trees. If ever I get old enough to not be mobile, I imagine that my camping experience will be something to the effect of sitting in my chair or bed in the old folks home with the television tuned in on a “nature” channel. If that ever becomes the case, I am praying that the meds that they give me will be REALLY good and give me a total trip! Or perhaps they will have an oscillating fan to simulate the wind on a warm summer day. And then, upon my transition into the next world, I will take a nice long walk along a shaded forest path and notice that there don’t seem to be any mosquitoes or black flies. I will then be very happy.
1. The last time I slept out under the stars I woke up in the wee hours of the morning with something very wet slurping its way across my face. I was terrified that it was a bear. So I kept my eyes closed for a while. But the slurping persisted. When I finally summoned the courage to open my eyes, I found that it was a deer licking my face. I said, “Oh, hello there,” and it leapt about 6 feet straight up, landed and dashed off into the woods.
2. Yes, this shaman was in the reserves. It didn’t take. I completely disliked the amount of messed up disfunction in the military system.
3. Yes, I was in an end-over-end roll over. I was not the one driving and it was not my fault in any way. But the injuries from that (I was 18) still haunt me from time to time.
4. When I speak of the numerous life and death experiences that I have had through my life, my partner wonders how the hell I am actually still alive. Truth be told, I do as well.
5. Each and every one of those life and death experiences have led me to my trust in Spirit and the work that I do as a shaman. But I still lock my doors…because I am not stupid.