It only took one experience camping with my family for me to realize that I’m not cut out for tent living. Every anticipated horror was realized when my children repeatedly brought me squirmy, slimy things, my husband disappeared on a hike, and when the boys locked one of their own in the porta potty. And when I say boys, I mean adults of the male persuasion. The worst of it was the three hours of broken sleep, interspersed with visions of black bears rocking our tent for that last bag of Doritos. It’s not nature that’s the problem. I love the great outdoors. But lack of sleep has never been my friend and neither have snakes or men who think it’s funny to lock someone in a faux toilet.
Give me a long run in a cool wood, or a patch of grass next to a lake where the sun can warm me. But, please, please do not give me camping.
When I took up running, I started to spend a great deal more time outdoors. And you know what I discovered? I found freedom there. In part it was the running, but mostly it was the freedom of being without walls. The quiet wood and rolling hills break down the walls inside of me, and they create space for me to breathe. The beauty of the flaming red tree or moss covered trunk never cease to move me, to make me feel more alive to the mystery. In the blooms, next to the lake, beneath the boughs, I am connected to that mystery. Creation is mine to enjoy, and when surrounded by it, I feel moved to take part and free to create.
Nature may not be your thing. You might come alive at the bowling alley, or in the kitchen, or wiping backsides. Maybe you don’t know where you feel most free. I don’t personally recommend the wiping of backsides (you know my abbreviated history as a nurse), but take notice of the places where you feel most you, where you have space to breathe. You just might find freedom there.
I’d love to hear what your places and spaces are like. Do tell. Unless it’s camping, in which case you’re just going to make me look bad.