Being raised in Southeast Texas has presented a vast opportunities to go camping. This includes everything from my parents taking my brother and I to local parks, to camping on the bayous with my buddies, to camping at the lake with my kids, hiking in and camping at remote areas, to take my kids camping on the river.
While I’am sitting around the camp fire looking at the coals and staring at the stars, I often wonder about the people that came before me. And I’am not just talking about the people in the last 100 years.
Did the neanderthal look up at those same stars and wonder where he came from and where he was going?
While Julius Caesar was fighting the Gauls, did he sit around the camp fire with his troops, look up at the stars and talk about humanity?
There is a certain peace and quit in the woods that being at home can not substitute. Its a natural peace, something that just turning off the TV can not match.
A couple of weeks ago I took my son and my nephew camping along the Angelina River in Southeast Texas. While we were in the trip I bought along “The Raven: A Biography of Sam Houston”. There is no way to describe how peaceful it was, sitting there next to the river reading my book. The only sounds were my nephew, my son, the wind and the birds in the trees. Every once-in-awhile a boat went by, but there must have been 2 – 3 hours where we did not see another person or boat.
The quit times provide a chance to reflect on our lives, where we have came from and where we are going. Have we done good things in our life, or bad things? When we die, will others be glad that we are dead, or will we be missed?
Getting your backpack ready for the trip is like life – you have to pick what is important and what has to be left behind. Its impossible to bring “everything” with you. So you have to sit down, make some notes and decide what is “really” important.
There was this one trip that a couple of my buddies and I went on. We took the boat and headed up into a low marsh area that was full of cypress trees, spiders and snakes. Two of us pack our bags and were ready for the adventure that awaited us. The third guy, all he brought was a 5 gallon water cooler with a blanket, snacks and a few canned drinks. I guess that would be a good example of how people prepare for life. If you know that something awaits you, an adventure, how do you get ready for it? In other words, how do you get ready for life? Anyway, my buddy and I brought a tent that was big enough for 4 people, so the three of us fit in there fine.
Being out in the woods also reminds people how comfortable their lives back at home are – they have a bed, TV, internet, running hot and cold water, blankets,,,,. While on a camping trip, it might be really hot, or really cold, or you could fall down a creek bank and get covered with mud – and no way to take a shower. You just have to take things as they are when you in the woods. Sure you can take a bath in a pond or stream, but there is not going to be a hot water heater upstream; so you have to take the water as it comes.
Then there is the self reliance while on a camping trip. Its up to you to bring your own gear, to fix your own food, to setup your own tent,,,,,. While back in the real world, someone might be there to help fix dinner, or just get in the truck and drive to sonic. Who needs to cook anything when you have fast food.
Then there is the closeness to nature. For tens of thousands of years, mankind lived in the wilderness. We hunted, we fished, we gathered, we survived. But over time something changed. People starting cutting down the trees and building cities. We were no longer “part” of nature – we just took what we wanted (like a thief in the night) and gave nothing back. At one time mankind was at the mercy of nature, but now nature is at the mercy of mankind. The rolls seemed to have been reversed a little bit.
When you look up at the stars, do you think about the stories those stars could tell if they could talk? What about the trees? Do you ever wonder what stories they could tell? The tree that was in your parents backyard – the tree that watched you grow up. Did you ever pay that tree any attention? Did you ever think about what that tree has seen? When you had your parties, the tree stood by as a silent friend that offered shade from the suns heat.
Next time your in the wilderness, think about what those trees have seen in their life time. In some parts of the world the trees can grow to be 300, 400, 500+ years old. They were here before Europeans ever set foot in North America – oh the sights they must have seen.