Saturday, August 10, 2013

Off the Grid?

Okay, so I'm going camping with my family. Some people look at me like I have three heads when I say I am going tent camping for a week, but I love it. There's something about being out in nature that calms me down. I don't know specifically what it is, but looking at the green of the earth, cooking out on a campfire, and not having the blare of the television constantly in the background has a calming effect on me. Probably I'm not the only one to discover this effect...otherwise camping would not have the popularity it does. The basic tasks of being "at camp" don't have the repellant effect to me that they do at home (Why does it seem cooler to wash dishes outside? Maybe I should take to doing it at home. Perhaps I would have less dishes stacked up in my kitchen).

I get into the simplicity thing. I like no phone...not a single luxury. True, eventually it wears thin and I want to come home to all that technology offers, but somehow eliminating that from my life on a temporary basis recharges me. The outdoors is a wonderful place to just ... well...just be. You don't HAVE to do anything. I mean, when you're camping (at least when I am camping) it seems somehow "legal" to do nothing. It's cool that you are just sitting in your camp chair with the sun on your face having a siesta. It's fine as paint that you are reading a book and not rushing somewhere to accomplish something. Camping is a meditative process for me. It takes me off the grid.

That's the good news. The bad news is that camping makes me go "off the grid" crazy while I prepare. There's just so much you have to plan ahead for. Everything that you have at your fingertips at home is, well, not with you when you camp. That's kind of what the aim get "away from it all." But to prepare to be away from it all you have to accept that you will not have it all when you get there. Being prepared to camp means being prepared to improvise. It's a study in doing without. If you're practiced at it you can manage to Macgyver it in some pretty charming ways. But if you aren't my family that goes perhaps once a year, you can wind up wet and cold and ...well...miserable.

This awareness of the need to prepare and practice is precisely why every time I plan to go camping I tell myself I am going to be packed in an orderly fashion, on time. Every time I am wrong. Every time I am caught running around like there's a fire and I am without the means to put it out. For some reason I fixate on something every time. I pack in a wacky fashion and usually wind up crying at some point due to stress. Stupid? Absolutely. The solution? To pack in an orderly fashion - make lists, check things off, plan meals, et cetera et cetera. I DO those things. Really. I do. What I DON'T DO is use my time wisely. I will start planning menus and wander off to find my dogs' rabies tags. I find the tags but need pliers to put them on...the pliers are in the basement so I head down there. When I get there I am distracted by the gates down there that I plan to use to contain my dogs at camp. I pick those up and bring those to the car. While I'm at the car I think, "I should go get the fishing equipment and put it in now so I don't forget. I grab the fishing rod, the hooks and sinkers and head down from the attic. As I am heading down I notice that there are life preservers in the attic as well. Will my friends be bringing their canoe? I go downstairs to call them to find out...and on and on.

Does this ever happen to you? This endless wheel of tasks that never seem to get accomplished? This nonstop interruption of your time? I mean, I want to go camping so why am I stalling?

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