Thursday, February 17, 2011

Why We Went Into the Woods... and Why We Went Out of the Woods

Thoreau wrote an essay called, "Why I Went Into the Woods", which I read (not voluntarily, but read nonetheless). I never bothered to read his sequel, "Why I Went Out of the Woods" because that always seemed obvious. But the great thing about going out of the woods is that it feels like a vacation when you get home.

Feel like you need a new mattress? Go sleep on the cold, hard ground. Your bed will feel like heavenly clouds. Feel like your bathroom is too far away? Hike to one in the freezing cold outdoors. If you're lucky, there will be one-ply toilet paper. Feel like you can never get your house clean? Go live in dirt. It's all about perspective.

Of course, when you trade your life of relative ease with relative misery, conflict is inevitable. As my friend Yunjong put it, "I went camping once. I have many stories of being mad at my husband." I have many stories, too, most of them stemming around differing definitions. I grew up camping, so when we were dating, I told him confidently that I love to camp. Then, I went camping with him. The first evening, I was in shock. Where was the volleyball net? The poker game? The snipe hunts, feasts, bonfires... none of those existed in Willie's definition of camping. His definition: camping - sleeping near a river and/or lake and fishing from dawn until dusk. This trip, I brought a book. I'm learning.

You always learn something about each other when you're camping. This trip, we learned that Halle walks in her sleep. In the middle of a frigid night, I heard something moan and smack the side of the tent. "That sounds like Halle," I thought. I checked her sleeping bag and found it empty. I woke up Willie. We coached Halle back into the tent. "I'm freezing!" she said. Willie tucked her back into the sleeping bag. "How long were you out there?" he asked. "Three hours!" she replied.

Of course, she wasn't out there for three hours. But it probably felt like three hours, the same way that were were technically camping for three days, but it felt (and smelled) like three weeks. This is another great thing about camping: it lasts longer than a regular vacation. Vacations always fly by too fast and never come soon enough. I think I'll be satisfied if I don't camp for another year or even longer.

1 comment: