Upgrading to a Tent

One of the first conditions of happiness is that the link between Man and Nature shall not be broken…Leo Tolstoy

We are all so much together, but we are all dying of loneliness…Albert Scheitzer

After returning from our annual camping trip with my friends in Anza Borrego, I want to go back! 

Why?  Because, it’s simple there; a tent, food, water, friends, family and the endless blue sky!  It’s all I need.

Surrounded by majestic purple mountains, creosote bushes, ocotillos aflame with bright red flowers and millions of stars at night take me home and reconnect me with the natural world and myself.  It feels glorious.  It’s a far cry from the traffic, noise, buildings and city lights I have to deal with every day.   John Muir got it right when he said, “Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over civilized people are beginning to find out going to the mountains is going home; that wilderness is a necessity.”  In my case, going to the desert is going home.

Our kitchen at Anza Borrego campsite

Riley, Lauren, Casey and Maggie getting ready for a hike

Not only do I feel connected to the earth and the cosmos when camping, I feel connected to my friends and family.  Spending quality time with them, face to face, for five entire days, without television, the internet or phones is, as Master Card’s brilliant marketers say, “priceless.”  In fact, I noticed, as our phones went dead, we came to life. 

It felt good to be disconnected from both the internet and today’s crazy busy lifestyle.  It does not feel good to be disconnected from friends, family and the natural world, however. It is lonely.

No wonder I miss it already.  No wonder I am frustrated now that I am back to the daily grind.  I no longer feel connected to something much bigger than my daily life, much bigger than me. 

Maggie, Chloe, Rachel, Bas, Matt and Bennie and 17 others hiking to the Oasis

Honestly, I love the simple life.  I could easily live in a tent or an RV or even on a boat.  I don’t need all this “stuff.”  Why so many clothes?  It just means more laundry.  Why do I need two sets of matching plates and bowls?  It just means more dishes to clean.  And a big house with floors that show every speck of dust and cat hair; Why?  Arghh….It’s a huge burden to carry, weighing on me every day.  Like trying to make sure my cancer never comes back isn’t enough.

Apparently, I am not the only one that feels this way.  The other day, a homeless man, Dennis Mahurin won $50,000 in the lottery.  After taxes he will get $35,000.  He has decided to use the money to fix his teeth, give $100 to his fellow homeless friends, put a little away for a rainy day, and continue to live in his tent.  $35,000 is enough to get him off the streets but not enough to keep him out of the rat race.  He would need to get a job to pay for a house and all the other stuff he has learned he can live without.  So, he is going to stay in his tent, although, he is considering buying an upgrade.  He says, he’s as “happy as can be in my nature.”  I love this guy.

Leo Tolstoy not only felt the same way, he did something similar.  At the end of his life, he gave up aristocracy, seeking a less decadent way of life, and went to live with the peasants.

Playing Games - phones are dead or dying


Playing more games into the night

So what is a girl to do when wonderlust strikes?  When the desire for both simplicity and adventure outside of the ordinary calls?  Do I ditch the house?  Trade it in for an RV and park it next to Mr. Mahurin?  Kevin could quit his job, we can take Casey out of school, give away the cats, the snake, and the bunny and travel from KOA site to KOA site around the country taking odd jobs along the way.  It wouldn’t be Jack Kerouak “On the Road” but I would have my “tent.”

I have a great argument as to how this could all work.  But in the end, I know I would be living in the RV alone.  As much as I would love to escape the routine and responsibilities of my life, there are a lot of good things happening;  The Mammary Chronicles, Daisy Chain, The “Yes” Mom, homeschooling, Mother Function, Lauren and so much more.  And, honestly, the kids love their lives here on Cerritos Drive and the only way they would ever give up those cats are over their dead bodies.     

So, it seems the simple life simply isn’t that simple right now.  I am a mother first, in the thick of parenting, trying to stay afloat and alive.  But I know in the whole scheme of things, it is a short time.  Riley is almost 20, Casey will be a Senior next year and Maggie is officially a teenager.  It won’t be long before they are all grown up, moved out of the house and I will finally live in that tent I have always longed for, missing those days in the big house with laundry, dirty dishes, and dusty floors.

2 Responses to “Upgrading to a Tent”

  1. Raundi Says:

    I couldn’t agree more with this one. I often get home and think …Please someone just send me to my tent!…
    I wrote this for National poetry month. Its about how camping with you all keeps me sane.

    Ward G2

    My return was more than voluntary. I was committed to regaining some of my misunderstood sanity. A 72-hour hold certainly couldn’t hurt. I kept my bunk free of clutter and stuck to a routine that included kitchen duty. Cooking cleaning, anything to avoid a day of hard labor in the hot desert sun. This work they give us, especially the physical, is good for the constitution. A little vitamin D is essential for reversing a depleting dopamine problem. The simple tasks of washing dishes, chopping vegetables and taking out the garbage keeps your hands relatively blood free. I am happy here amongst the other loons, the roadrunners and the squirrels. Stirring boiling pots and ladling thick stew onto the plates held out by the most blissful looking faces I’ve ever seen. It really is all about the people. Having me around somehow makes them feel saner than ever. It is the least I can do for my kind.

    Love you, Deanne!

  2. clare Says:

    You will love the NPR TED Radio hour from Sunday April 21. It was all about what constitutes beauty and it described a study by an artist who asked people from a range of countries what sort of pictures they liked. From their listed preferences he came up with a composite painting for each nationality’s taste. It was virtually the same for every country. It was a landscape with wide spaces, climbable trees, water and a pathway into the distance (even for people for whom such landscapes did not occur in their own country). His theory was that it was our ancestral savannah.
    You are so right, Raundi, that the real answer is being connected to people you really love. What the desert did most for you was disconnect the gadgets and made everyone focus on the here and the whom.
    And just for your consolation, Deanne, all those daily chores are just that much harder and more time consuming on a boat.

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