Monday, May 24, 2010

What's Really Important to You?


"All that is really important to you is here with you right now." were the wise words of our new-found friend, Gordon, as we sat at the picnic table in front of our trailer one sunny July afternoon while camping at a New York State campground some years back. We were discussing the costs and merits of tent trailers as our children played together. Gordon and his family went back to Ohio, but his words still echoed in my mind as I pondered a summer quickly drawing to a close.

It had been a rigorous winter for our family that year, culminating in my June convocation. Thesis finished, degree conferred, it was time to get back to the things that mattered most--family life. As if to prove it, our little family procured a tent trailer which had us out of town most long weekends and for several weeks at a stretch. Family time without the distractions of technology: phones, computers, television, modern conveniences--except a pop-up tent with a refrigerator and a propane heater, became a luxurious priority.

And what a great time of learning it all was! Meeting new people (Cordon and his wife, Patricia) and discussing new ideas, enriched our lives while helping us to gain fresh perspectives, weaving a social tapestry with new acquaintances. It made me think of adult education. Nature had her own lessons (Never sit on a crowded beach when seagulls are flying overhead!). We learned to fill our days with simple survival chores (cooking over an open fire, washing dishes in a basin) that brought me back to a time when I was merely a fleeting thought in my grandmother's consciousness.

Camping is a physical experience and it was indeed hard work. It was a great contrast to the frenzied lives we live at home. As the Adirondak mountain air and sunshine worked its magic on our souls, so slipped away the layers of a hurried suburban existence.

The next phase, like a chapter in a spell-binding book, is always around the corner. A summer of camping must come to a close, people part, places become memories and activities change. We change. Our souls grow. Summer melts into Fall, a return to the routines of a season spawning new beginnings. We reluctantly put the trailer away, our souls away…wait! Can we squeeze in one more long weekend, to perhaps see the autumn colors? Anyway, no matter what, I needed simply remember that all that is really important to me is here with me right now…wherever that may be.

* Note, the camping season is now upon us once again...hopefully this little article will inspire you to be present to yourself and to those around you wherever YOU may be this summer. Happy Trails! :-))

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