I sat up in the tent. “Did you hear that?”, I asked Phillip, my tent mate. I was 11, and at a Boy Scouts jamboree. “Yeah, let’s go check it out”, he said.
We donned our flip flops and slowly unzipped the tent. We zipped it shut and crept toward the noise.
Whoosh whoosh whoosh…CRASH! and then a tumbling sound. We run towards it, because this is a safe place.
It was another scout troop a few campsites over. The scoutmaster piled empty beer cans into a beeramid and was knocking them over with a bullwhip.
Another time I was camping, this time near the sea. I had a muffin on a picnic table. A mongoose hopped on the table and ate the muffin, paper and all. I screamed and ran. There was laughing.
Mongoose are scary jerks.
I have had good, memorable experiences camping. I camped once and rode horses. I pulled a lot of practical jokes. Some of these occurrences are more than 20 years old. Still, camping….I’m nonplussed.
I often react with internal resistance to new ideas which are not my own. I’m sure this is normal behavior, but it annoys me. It bothers me when I’m not able to keep my emotions in check. It comes from a place of fear/anxiety, and honestly, sometimes just plain ole laziness. I hate it.
Eventually, once the sting of it wears off, I’m fairly amenable. This does not change the fact it is A-hole behavior.
One of the best examples which comes to mind is camping. I’m sure there was a time when I enjoyed camping. Now, however, the suggestion uploads a Sisyphean to-do list to my brain. It’s a massive logistics undertaking; and since I’m Dad, if equipment is shoddy, or something breaks and I can’t fix it, or I didn’t get all the permits, or the campsite is next to an Accordion Fanciers group, or whatever, it’s my fault.
Also, camping seems like forced homelessness, or revisiting the indignities of a deployment.
So there are two things at work here- anxiety/fear, and perhaps a genuine dislike towards camping.
Looking at actual camping, I think my opposition is likely a theoretical construct with no meat on its bones. After all, I like all the things camping encompasses (compass pun, +1). I like being outside, campfires, campfire cooking, trees, vacationing, nature, long meandering walks, whittling, smores, playing guitar and singing, forest games like mumbly peg or leg wrestling, hiking, animals,watching sunrises and sunsets, mountains, ghost stories, being able to see the stars, water. I like the smells of the woods, from the dark, musty stench of the trampled leaflitter to mud, grass, treesap. I like being outside and barefoot. I enjoy the noises of the woods.
So what is it? Why is camping not my jam? i haven’t camped too many times, and don’t have a particularly negative memories I can recall. It’s not the responsibility or the work. It isn’t buying gear, learning how to use and care for it. It’s not the social interaction. It’s got to be how I think about camping.
So, we’ve isolated what camping is made of-the physical part, the emotional component, the mental part. It’s got to be the mental part, right? Why do I not associate camping with fun and freedom?
I’m writing a story about a young man who decides to take action to correct deficiencies in his character and knowledge. This includes learning outdoor skills. I do similar actions, and I’m going to do this one.
I don’t dislike camping, or even the idea of camping. I dislike feelings or memories or ideas I have about camping.
So I have decided- camping can be fun. I can enjoy it. I can make great memories with my family. I’m ready to at least try, and will not let opinions based on past experiences or feelings deprive me of pleasure any longer.
What’s your equivalent of camping?