Sometimes I joke that the best part of camping is how relieved you are not to be camping any more. Seriously. You know, like when you say to somebody, “It hurts when I do this!” They invariably dutifully ask, “Well, why are you doing that?” You reply, “Because it feels so good when I stop!” Yeah, camping is a little like that.
When I told one of my good friends I was planning on going camping, she said that for her, camping seemed to be mostly about cooking and cleaning up after cooking and getting things ready for sleeping and sleeping and picking things up after sleeping. And I agreed. Camping is kind of like that too. But for me, that’s sort of the point of camping.
For me, camping takes me out of my routine at home and slows me down. Everyday things like making a meal or doing dishes are more challenging when you have to pull everything out of a cooler and make a fire and heat your own water. But I also find that the slower and more challenging nature of doing these things in a more primitive way causes me to live in the moment. While I’m making dinner, I’m not also on the cell phone and figuring out what I’m going to wear today. While I’m doing dishes, I’m not also watching TV and thinking about what my last client said to me. I find that I can be absorbed in what I’m doing and achieve a state of flow.
For me, a state of flow is a condition where for a few, brief, blessed moments, I’m concentrating completely on what I’m doing while I’m doing it. It’s rare and elusive but supremely relaxing. It’s living in the now without reflection and without worry. It’s just a matter of doing stuff while you’re doing it. This is something I also feel whenever I teach an exercise class. There’s so much to keep track of while teaching–from how my students are doing to the temperature in the room to the beat of the music to what step I’m supposed to be doing right now to making sure that everybody is being safe and not getting hurt. Whenever I start thinking about what I’m going to have for lunch or whether or not I should buy that shirt I saw at the mall last night, it all falls apart. I stumble. I lose my place in the music. And I find I have to shake my head, march us all in place for a little while and begin again. But when I’m just thinking about my students and the beat and the dancing, it’s calming and joyous and maybe a little teensy bit zen.
So my little chicklettes–I want to ask you to think about what activities allow you to achieve this sort of moving meditation. What allows you to live completely in the “now”? Is there something you love to do? Something during which you can be completely absorbed and time seems to just “fly by”? I encourage you to find your thing. Maybe you could even try camping. Because, when you stop camping and take a bath and slip in between clean sheets on a real bed, it feels soooooooo good.
The Fat Chick
I’ve always heard that in terms of backpacking — the joy of backpacking is it feels sooooo good when you take the pack off.
My meditative things? Bicycling and cross-country skiing. Hands down.
What I love about camping, is it forces me to do nothing for long stretches of time. There is no way I can clean the kitchen when the kitchen is 30 miles away.