It was our family's first camping trip. We pitched a tent, unrolled our sleeping bags, and "roughed it" with a group of friends and their kids. We had the time of our lives.
It was hot. We were smelly. There were bugs of all sorts and other small creatures. We felt sticky, a bit grimy, and were constantly covered in bug spray - the strong kind. Oh, and did I mention it was hot?
I thought about the fact that people camp all of the time and I wondered why. I slowed my pace, pondered, and eventually I got it.
A neck-craning look up at the very tall trees surrounding us put me in awe as their cone-filled tops swayed in a breeze we never felt. I shared a shower with the brightest green frog I'd ever seen, well...except maybe on the Planet Earth DVD. A lonesome stroll back to the tent surprised a raccoon who was seconds away from tearing our garbage from its post. And a walk to the bathroom in the pitch black of night revealed the brightest stars I've ever seen.
The kids ran and played and created a constant backdrop of giggles and laughter. They scootered and skated on the narrowly paved road. They tossed a football, beanbags, and water balloons. They enjoyed a nearby beach - in their clothes. And they discovered.
At the end of the day when we zipped our tent they looked up and exclaimed, "we could live like this!" And they meant it.
Burdens come with conveniences and luxuries but we seldom step away from them long enough to realize it. In the woods, we were unencumbered. All of us felt it. There were no Nintendos, no internet, and no agendas. There was the simple company of family and good friends. And there was leisure.
The experience was invaluable. I now understand a way of existence that I hadn't known prior to that weekend. And I know how to get it when I need it. Could you use a bit of freedom? If so, I suggest you pack a tent, gather close friends, and head for the woods.
Until next time...