In effort to push my boundaries of comfort (and save some cash) I decided to give up my cozy sanctuary and live in a tent in the bush with my martial arts instructor for a season.
The plan: commute to and from work in town, train morning and night and get a lot more connected with raw nature and ourselves. After working out logistics of where to shower, what to eat, the gear to get and camping laws we embarked on our long adventure. My instructor is pretty much a camping guru so I felt that even with my distant camping experience we’d make a great situation out of it.
The first week was intensely beautiful! The most stunning sunrises and sunsets that no one else was witness to, moonlit meditations, campfire katas (martial art forms) and even the familiarization with the insects and animals that let us know we were on their turf.
And then, hello fears!
The coyotes keeping me up at night no longer had an inspiring appeal, daylight hours quickly started to disappear, the isolation of the long bumpy road started to wear on my nervous system (and the chassis of my car) and increasingly cold nights crept into my bones. I practiced less, ate mostly comfort foods and spent a lot of time in the petrified pursuit of unraveling my fears. When you’re tired and isolated perceptions can get exasperated really quickly. I was afraid of the unseen, afraid of noises, afraid of intruding, afraid of being seen and afraid of being alone. Surely the spirit focused native peoples of this area were coping with life better than I was, and I had the luxury of tarps!
In addition to being the best martial artist I know, my instructor just happens to also be angelically fearless, patient and caring. I watched with awe as he’d yell louder than the coyotes, compassionately escort the stealthy bugs in our tents out, relish in the semi-warm water of the public showers and seemingly not “need” anything. I was dumbfounded and doubtful that I could ever be that carefree in these conditions.
The shift came for me one day when I was too sick to dig a hole. Now there are some great ways to surrender your ego… having to ask someone you look up to and haven’t known long to dig you a hole in the dark when you really need it is one of them.
I never looked at our “pooping shovel” the same way again.
Our conditions became overtly hilarious that point. I was grateful to the coyotes calling out and letting us know systems were as normal, I was no longer ashamed of where/how I lived, I appreciated that hot cheap burritos feel like manna on cold mornings, I honored that sleeping in my car on a night with weird vibes is not failing at camping and I acknowledged that I didn’t need to be “hard core.” Amusedly I donned my headlamp and heels every morning (because really, who wears heels camping?!) and headed out for another strange day.
Camping brought up so many lessons you really can’t learn unless you push yourself into nature like that. I’m so grateful we did! There, however, comes a time when you realize the source of the push. For me, I pushed myself because I didn’t like how “soft” I was, I valued strength and courage more than my sensitive nature. The unloving beginnings of this journey became clear after I started honestly honoring myself. That’s when it’s time to change and treat yourself like you’re perfect… fears, apprehension, gratitude and all! A couple months later I’m writing from a cozy couch in an abode that I love ever grateful for the amenities and clarity and that 2016 brings.