Ah, the not-so-simple life!

by admin on October 5, 2011

Sometimes you just feel the need to get away, to get out of the City and head out to the country, the mountains, the lakes, the seaside, for some peace and quiet. To escape the constant bombardment of the senses by noise and traffic and lights and sounds and smells. So, recently Shirley and I decided to get away, to go camping. And we discovered that the simple life is not so simple at all.

Getting away from it all

Now we always travel light. When we got on vacation we bring one bag each, regardless of whether we are going to Portland for a weekend or Paris for two weeks (if we ever went to Paris for two weeks that is) so we figured camping would be an equally easy thing to do. Boy were we wrong.

Traveling not-so-light!

By the time we had loaded into the car the tent, the cooler with the food/wine/beer, the box with the cooking gear/plates/cups/utensils, the cooking stove, the sleeping bags, the blow up mattress (OK, so I’m a sissy) and of course books and ukuleles there was barely room for us. We thought that somehow we had overdone it but when we got to our campsite we realized that we were traveling light compared to everyone else.

Some of these campsites – and admittedly they had kids – had five or more chairs, extra tents to cover the picnic tables, bikes, assorted toys, umbrellas, even surf boards. In short, their sites were jam packed and you wonder how they managed to cram all that stuff into their cars – until you realized they were all driving massive SUV’s or oversized mini-vans (isn’t that a contradiction in terms, an oversized mini van!)

In the end we looked like the poor kids on the block living a bleak and impoverished existence.

It’s all relative

Looking around at all the campsites, and all the families trying so hard to get back to nature it reminded me of Gandhi. No, really it did.

Ben Kingsley goes camping

Gandhi always tried to lead a life of simplicity, weaving the cloth for his own clothes, eating frugally etc. But of course he also led a national organization and traveled extensively and worked hard to spread the word of non-violence around the world. And all that took a lot of money so it’s no surprise that one of his biggest supporters – a textile manufacturer – always used to laugh when people praised Gandhi for living a life of poverty, saying “It costs me a lot of money to keep Gandhi in poverty.”

That’s how I felt looking around at the campsite. It costs a heck of a lot of money and takes a huge amount of effort and equipment to get back to nature.

Call of the mild

But you know what. It was all worth it. Once we’d set up the tent, got everything unpacked, the fire going, the cooker cooking, the wine uncorked and beer poured, and looked around and realized that we were in a willow grove, on the edge of the cliff, overlooking the Pacific Ocean with our only companions being some raccoons and  owls, we realized we were back in nature. That night, with the sound of the ocean rolling in as the backdrop I slept better than I had in ages.

Finding the simple life isn’t simple. But it is definitely worth the effort.

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