I went camping with a girlfriend for the holiday weekend (since Corey has been out of town for work) at a historic themed event that we generally just call a rendezvous. A family friendly recreation of when the fur trappers used to get together to party and trade in the summers before the country was devoid of nice pelts (namely beaver) pretty much entirely.
I spent all week preparing the gear we would need, and I found it to be an interesting change of pace that I was feeling more excited than anxious about the impending trip. There was a lot of responsibility involved in getting ready, but these events send me into a specific kind of mode.
I am not someone who can relax easily. I usually pull every trick I can think of out of my hat to try to make it happen, but in reality there is something about living in a modern setting that makes me feel completely destroyed more often than not. After only about 6 hours of returning to my apartment after camping the tension in my body was back to 80% or more of what it was before leaving, and after waking up in a bed this morning my body was screaming in pain.
This is a huge difference from waking up 24 hours ago on the ground. I do find sleeping on the ground painful, but it is painful in a completely different way. Body parts falling asleep in the middle of the night because of being pinned to the ground is painful, but if I move the pain is gone. While here, in daily living, the pain is constant -and everywhere. I expect it must have something to do with being unable to relax, which I just mentioned.
Even monday morning before packing up to leave I sat in an uncomfortable wooden chair looking up through the trees thinking,
“I honestly can’t remember the last time I felt this relaxed.“
When I look at the bigger picture, it doesn’t seem possible that the experience is more physically relaxing than being anywhere else. Hard chairs. Sleeping on the ground. Cooking over a fire. Having to trek to the closest available bathroom. Not bathing. These things wouldn’t seem to be relaxing, by all means they would appear to me to be much more difficult than how we live today.
But the pace is slow. And nature is inviting.
The piece of land we camped on had a major thoroughfare on one side and a housing development on the other. It wasn’t exactly wilderness, after all I did just spend the last 3 days walking nearly barefoot on gravel roads. At the same time, nature was able to fool the senses a little bit. Tall trees blotting out planes and other lights. Shrubbery creating cocoon-like pockets of camps and winding trails to… someplace.
If there is one thing I’ve learned from camping all these years it is that nature’s elements can overpower all internal clocks and sense of urgency. Even Luna (my dog) who has an internal clock that goes off at 5 am every morning at home suddenly slept in, internal clock wiped clean.
I wake up when nature wakes me up with the sun or birds or rain. I sleep when I am tired. I eat when I am hungry. As the idea of time becomes less of an issue, so does the tension in my body. There is nothing to be late for, and if something is going on somebody’ll walk by and say, “hey, something is happening over there if you didn’t know.” It is a perfect recipe for living in the moment.
I had a small depressive dip that lasted about two hours on Saturday and I walked out into the woods, sat on a patch of moss in the sunshine, and it passed. In nature I didn’t have to worry about feeling trapped or claustrophobic by my apartment when this happened, and I didn’t have any reason to feel guilty for not getting anything done. As bad as I felt, it was the best I’ve felt about just letting it happen and moving on.
I guess I don’t have any specific conclusions, really just a reiteration of knowledge I already had. When doctors say, “avoid stress,” living in nature is the one situation I know that I can genuinely say I can do that. For someone who can’t usually relax, even just laying in the grass in the park can make me feel like some of the pointless modern drama I find so overwhelming has melted away momentarily. I can’t seem to decide if it is our culture, or if I’ve just been born into the wrong time.