We went camping at one of our local provincial parks this summer. It was just a Friday night – Sunday afternoon deal, but my crossover was loaded to the max and the poor beast had just enough room to lie down and switch directions. Our trip, like usual, was an interesting mix of chaos and comedy, frustration and fun, and well, rain.
It never takes too, too long to set up camp. J has his own little pop-up that he likes to use and takes charge of. Kaleb bemoaned the camping experience and decided putting an air mattress in the back of the Journey was the way to go. Kevin & I set up the screened in dining tent, Kevin & J. tackled the main tent and all the air mattresses while K. watched the beast and helped me putter around camp. There was a campfire ban so no s’mores or grilled weiners for us. It was so hot the weekend we chose to go and our tent was stifling, so *someone* kept all the windows open to air it out on Saturday. The mosquitoes couldn’t get in, but, well, let’s just say the water did. Our change of clothes, bedding, air mattress, floor, you name it, was soaked… while we enjoyed some board games under the food tent and stayed wonderfully dry.
Our second night in the tent was much cooler, but unfortunately uncomfortable as unbeknownst to us (and while trying to deal with the discomforts of the damp from the rain out) our air mattress sprung a slow leak. Did I also mention that while the car was breathing room only with all the things I remembered to pack, I may have forgotten to pack pillows? We don’t exactly live the high life when we camp, but we generally aren’t roughing it too badly either. We tossed and turned. Middle of the night, I had to relieve myself and thought I was comfortable enough to walk to the comfort station while surrounded by the snores of my fellow campers. I brought a little torch, good enough to find my glucometer in the dark, so good enough to get me where I needed to go… or so I thought.
You know what though? This crowded, not-very-wild park suddenly seemed overwhelmingly lonely and dark in the pitch black of the middle of the night. The moon wasn’t very bright that I can remember, and the trees surrounded me with their shadows. This friendly, family-safe environment during the day had become an unknown, unfamiliar, uncomfortable void. I didn’t truly feel uneasy as the crowded campground lent some assurance that if I were to be in real trouble, I could scream and someone would undoubtedly hear me. Until I stumbled in a pothole, twisted my ankle slightly, and not more than one minute later, walked smack into a tree. (I’m a little surprised that I didn’t wake our fellow campers on that site.)
The comfort station was only three campsites to the right up a curved road, and then down a short wooded path – a three minute walk at most in the daytime, but it seemed interminable because the torch I grabbed barely illuminated the ground right in front of my feet, nevermind lighting the path ahead of me. I had another encounter with the local flora (no contact with trees this time) and finally stumbled into the golden halo cast by the sodium vapour lights on the green by the comfort station.
My way back was even more disconcerting, as my eyes had adapted to the much-appreciated light of the washroom and surrounding area, but were not yet ready to adapt to the shadows beyond that above mentioned glow. I stood in the green with it’s many trails extending towards the various campgrounds, but couldn’t distinguish any openings in the woods to find my way “home.” I wandered much like I imagine a drunken monkey would, trying to be discreet and quiet, but also starting to feel a little panicked even though I knew the path. was. right. there. I was ready to turn around and walk towards the light of the washrooms and park it on a bench for the rest of the night and wait for dawn’s arrival. Finally, I stumbled close enough to the edge of the woods and at this point, only hoped it was the correct path, missed a bend in the road and veered towards the trees again, managed to trip in the same pothole, and gratefully found our campsite and crawled into the tent. Having to take a pee had become an incredibly ridiculous (and yes, humourous) venture.
Of course, me being me, I lay on the air mattress with a cardigan rolled up as a pillow, slanting towards the ground on one side, shivering in the damp of our not-so-comfy nest, and thought how much my little adventure reminded me so much of life. We lose sight of our bigger journey, finding the shadows of our day-to-day worries and concerns closing in; we focus on where we are right this moment and don’t take the time or find the tools to see the colossal picture. We shed light on a small part of our story, we stumble through our situations, and we fail to illuminate our path. We encounter obstacles, we veer off course, but when we finally see the light, we rejoice, we find reassurance, we take courage. My journey would have been so much easier if I had grabbed a powerful flashlight or if there had been streetlights or moonlights along the path.
Go ahead and laugh at my troubles… again – I wouldn’t share them if I were ashamed! Also, take to heart the lesson from my example and grab a good flashlight if you ever need to find a washroom in the dark. A path illuminated is a much easier journey than a walk through the shadows.