So here is my inner dialogue:
Right-Shoulder Smurf: Dude, too bad you didn’t survive the whole summer in that tent. You’re such a wimp.
Left-Shoulder Smurf: Holy Amazeballs! You lasted sixteen days in that tent! Considering you’ve never been in a tent longer than two nights, I call that a great success.
Good thing my Left-Shoulder Smurf is ridiculously boisterous.
Seriously, though. People “go into nature” to find themselves, to learn about themselves, and to commune with the natural environment God gave us. Frankly, I did that. Having lived in a tent these past two weeks, I have learned a lot about myself, and have had ample opportunity to appreciate the calming sounds of the birds and the rustling of leaves and the quiet of the breeze, the rich smell of growing wood, and the beautiful landscape that contained, other than tents, virtually no human structures.
So why did I move to a bunk?
For one, though I also appreciated, to some degree, the sound of “love drops” (a.k.a. “rain”) on the roof of my tent. Just not the 3 AM pummeling. And the 4 AM. Oh, and at 7 AM when I needed to get ready for work and so needed to go the five-minute walk up to the nearest bunk to brush my teeth.
Here are the things I learned about myself:
1. I’m a People-Person. Yes, people who need people are, in fact, the luckiest people in the world. (Thank you, Jule Styne and Bob Merrill.) Though this community and this experience is a microcosm of the world at large, I learned that living so far from everyone, and having to retreat to silence and solitude every night is lonely. I’d rather be in the center of things and readily accessible to people than all the way on the outskirts of community.
2. Mosquitos are NOT My Friends. 32 Mosquito bites in 5 days. ‘Nuff said.
3. I’m Not as Good at Sleeping as I Used to Be. In elementary school, the bus driver picked us up first, at 6:45 AM, and I routinely slept the entire hour-and-a-quarter-long bus trip. Considering how exhausting camp is, you’d think we’d sleep like logs. I woke up 6 times last night just because of rain.
4. I Prefer to Be in Close Proximity to a Bathroom. Again, I think this one is self-explanatory. A five minute walk to the bathroom, to shower, or brush teeth, or anything else, is really not my idea of fun. I also think sleeping in sheets just feels cleaner than sleeping consistently in a sleeping bag. Particularly when, because of the weather, the sleeping bag is consistently wet.
5. I’m Not an Outdoorsy Person. My sister told me this before I left. I didn’t deny that she was probably right, but I wanted to have a new experience. So… been there, done that. Would I go camping again? Sure — for a weekend.
6. I’m Good at Trying New Things, But I Know My Limits. This whole summer is a new experience for me. I’m trying a lot of new things all at once, but I think it’s important when to know that not everything new will continue to be a good experience. So we censor ourselves, and we make adjustments. Life is about the ebb and flow of positive experiences. Some experiences, like interpersonal relationships, stay positive; others turn sour or experience turbulence and we need to adapt. So here I am, adapting.
As my Shoulder-Smurfs keep fighting it out, I think at least in the overall experience I’m patting myself on the back for knowing well enough when to back away for my personal health and happiness. Okay, maybe I’m a little sad that it didn’t work out. Maybe I’ll feel differently after a good full-night’s sleep.