Easier said than done. I like to think I can rise about circumstances. But, on occasion, circumstances get the better of me. Rushing in like a virgin on prom night! All control goes out the window, before I even knew anything had started!
I am writing this post from a picnic table in the middle of Chatfield State Park in Colorado. My daughter and I are here, camping, while they attend a Sailing/Standup-Up paddle board camp. There first camping experience, outside of our back yard. I decided we should camp here for the week for two reasons. One, I refuse to participate in long commutes. I love traveling, but I despise commuting. From our house, the minimum effort to get here each day, would be about 1 hour each way. So, if I went home in between – I would be sitting in the car for a minimum of 4 hours a day. Add, in construction, and the day is shot! Two, the cost of tolls and gas easily make an inexpensive camp site an easy call.
I am embarrassed to say, that on day one, I had a full melt-down, before we even left our cul-de-sac.. It began with me misplacing a new pair of prescription glasses. I tend to think of myself as responsible, but place prescription glasses in my hands and I am about as responsible as a two year old left alone in a chocolate factory. I brake and lose glasses at an alarming rate. The misplaced pair, recently replaced another lost pair. Add to that, the cost of purchasing my first pair of prescription sun glasses and my wallet tried leaping off a bridge before I could even extract my credit card to pay. Wow! Cha-ching! It definitely had me considering taking lasers to my eyes.
Back to my meltdown. It was not pretty. It got intense quickly. I had enough presence of mind to tell my daughters what I was feeling. Explaining, that I didn’t feel proud of the emotions, but that they were strong and paralyzing my better judgement. The girls are pretty understanding for a 10 and 13 year old. I screamed into my arm, as I walked back into the house, looking, but knowing that they would not be there. I also knew that I could not have “lost” them, since I just had them. My fear turned to them being at the bottom of our camping supplies.
Through deep breaths, I dug through the rubble of gear. I eventually, found my glasses safely cradled in a air pocket that any miner would be grateful to find. I was disappointed by my behavior. Mostly, because I know that everyone around me was on pins and needles. I was mad at myself, not anyone else. but anger is quite the contagious disease. I am not only quick to accept others, whether they offer it or not, but I can just as easily spread it.
An hour later, I dropped the girls off at camp. As I drove away, I felt the weight of frustration lifting, ever so slightly. I usually do better with stress, when I am alone. I suppose, it has something to do with others not being around to witness my shortcomings. I drive around waiting for our camp site to be read; enjoying the park and trying to get back into a state of calm.
When I arrive at the site, it only takes a few minutes, before I am sweating and cursing at the tent for refusing to stand. Arguing with inanimate objects. Not exactly an evolved species behavior! The ground is rock hard. I have forgotten a hammer. Tent stakes, break and bend as I try to MacGyver my way through the setup. Eventually, my frustration and the wind decide to cooperate in a way that that tent and I cannot. A tent pole shapes in half! How can I face the girls? We cannot go home? We have not even started. I am beaten. Or, so I think . . .
Then something strange happens. As easily as the pole snapped. So did my anger. It just stopped. I think witnessing this manifestation of a breaking point, hit me square in the face. Knocking me out for the round, but not the match. As quickly as the anger had rose in me, it was gone. I was here to have. There was no need for stress. Everything would work out the way it was supposed to. I set about practicing my knot-tying skills and making make-shift tie-downs. A few minutes later the tent was up. Maybe more MacGruber than MacGeyver, but it was up!
Jump ahead a couple of days. The girls and I are having a great time camping. My glasses are now safely in a case, in the front seat of the car. We are getting more rain than we would like, but, we are still able to roast hot dogs and marshmallows. That is until Wednesday. Unbeknownst to us, Wednesday, was the day Noah had actually been preparing his Animalia Cruise Ship for all along. As the sun sets, we are inundated by rain, thunder and lightening. The tent floor is filling up at an alarming rate.
I know this is all part of the adventure, but I also know it could sour the girls on camping, if I don’t handle it correctly. My youngest, Nya is so tired, she falls right asleep. Leaving Sophia and I to stay up and process the events. Rather than get stressed, we decide to make silly videos (generously shared at the bottom of this page) to pass the time. Our reactions to the weather could have been so much worse. But we simply rolled with it.
Randy Pauch, author of, “The Last Lecture” tells a story when he was a bachelor uncle. He was picking up his sisters kids for a weekend of adventure. He arrived in a brand new convertible. His sister, dutifully told the kids to keep things tidy for their uncle, especially in his new car. Randy’s response? He poured a full can of soda in the back seat of his new car. His point was that material things are just that. Things! His sister was in shock. The kids were overjoyed!
Every time, I lose my cool, I think about this story. This time was no different. I try to remind myself that things are just things. Growing up with a scarcity mentality has made it hard to accept the disposable world that we now live in. I have a hard time replacing something that I have already paid because of negligence, or fashion changes. My kids love to tease me over 20-year old picture of me, wearing the same shirts that I still wear today. So what if I broke or lost my glasses. Yes, they were expensive. Yes, I should have been more careful. But it was not worth the cost of making those around me feel uncomfortable, while I through a tantrum. Passing on my guilt was a hurtful and lazy reaction to the situation.
I don’t believe in making excuses for poor behavior. I, do, however, like to reflect on my thoughts and actions. As I look back on the start of the week, I ask myself, why the glasses bothered me so much. I believe, it is because I felt like losing them or damaging them, was directly a result of my own negligence. I felt guilty for possibly damaging or losing something so valuable and new. I was rushing and being careless. Behavior I am quick to judge when my own children exhibit it. On the other hand, the storm, was completely out of my control. Laughing was the only way to react to it.
Our tent was the backseat of a convertible, and the the sky was pouring it’s soda can of rain onto us . . . reminding us of what is really important. I will screw up again. Perhaps, sooner than I hope to, but, I will continue to try and get better each day. Brush myself off, recalibrate my compass and continue the adventure! It is not the things that we say we love that are important. It is the people that we go around this globe with. It is how we treat them, and how they treat us. That is love, and it really is all that matters!