By W. Christian Koch
We went camping this past week or, as one of my hardcore, outdoor friends calls it, "Glamping". (Glamorous Camping).
Whatever you call it, the family loves it. My adult kids and their spouses/fiance' all flocked back for our little excursion. We are members of a club, so it's something free we can all do together.
We started camping about 13 years ago. While all the trips sort of blend together, the overall sense we get is that of a loving satisfaction of enjoying each other.
Some of the trips didn't exactly go as planned. A couple tire blowouts, steaks falling in the fire, rainy trips, steaming hot trips, and getting lost.
One such event sticks out for me. It was the time we were lost, at night, amidst nothing but corn fields. Man, is it ever dark out there cruising corn fields! We were also low on gas and there was nowhere to turn the camper around. The dirt road we were on just kept going and going and going.
Tensions were running high. Suddenly my mother-in-law, Nancy, exclaimed, "Well, the corn's agrow'n".
The simplicity of her observation broke the tension and every last one of us laughed so hard, we couldn't breath. Eventually, there was a crossroad and we made it to our campground safely and no worse for the wear.
So, what has me recounting such tales? It's another odd moment as I practice the mindfulness technique I learned to manage the chronic pain.
I was spraying off the carpets and tarp we use camping. When I started, there was a familiar aroma that was present that I never noticed while cleaning it in the past. It was the smell of camping.
It was the smoky smell of the dozens of campfires. It was the stains of millions of raindrops, from countless storms, that mixed with dirt as it splashed back on the tarp after hitting the muddy ground.
There is a small spot where the tarp got too close to the heat exhaust and melted a hole and charred it a bit. I looked at the imperfection of that very old tarp (my dad made it for me when I was 14!). I stood there for a moment and concentrated on that smell and the hole. All those memories flooded back and I started wondering why those challenges were so defined while the thousands and thousands of wonderfully positive experiences are sort of lost in a sea of really happy family moments.
I wondered if I really wanted to wash that tarp for fear of losing that aroma that was stirring those memories. Well, I went ahead and washed the dirt off and I'm happy to report the smell that is so pleasant to me was still there.
But it got me to pondering. I look at the beat up, somewhat dirtied and holey fabric of my life and I know I need to wash the dirt of the bad times off so I can continue to be useful.
And I truly do have a sea of terrific memories of a very happy existence thus far. But I'm wondering if I shouldn't keep the "aroma" of those difficult and challenging moments around because they definitely help define who I am and overcoming them has made my life rich and worth living.
It's not that I want to wallow in any "whoa is me pity party", but just like those camping stories that help knit us together as a family, remembering my challenges that I've overcome has made my story more complete.
I just need to remember though, not to get so caught up in how difficult things are or have been, rather take a look around, chill out and say, "Well, the corn's agrow'n".
EDITORIAL NOTE: You are a prolific bunch of writers and there is now a backlog of reader stories to carry us almost to summer. So for awhile, I am not accepting new stories until we work through some of the ones already on the list.