They say great no great adventure ever started with a salad. But this one starts and stops with one.
Last week, I was reminiscing about the salad days before my responsibilities had taken hold. Work was intensive, children were demanding and the world seemed like a lens with a smudge. It was time for some perspective.
We set out toward the east, looking for a desert calling. Running the obstacle course that is adulthood, we often forget to look to the left or right of us. We bear down. We sprint towards a finish that shifts forward with every step. Kids need consistency. Careers demand focus. Relationships require we are present.
But what can we do, as individuals, to be better for our people? We can journey. Strive. Venture out into the unknown so we can be unafraid in our daily practice.
Our party arrived at the campground just after sundown. And we found our headquarters. It was stunning.
Sitting on the wooden porch in front of our trailer speaking secrets into the night, our conversation caught by the stars, something happened under the full moon. We shed our silence like mute werewolves.
After a few hours, we hit our stride. There were cannonballs and topspin. Our small group spoke to other campers like dignitaries in kind. Foods were prepared over the communal fire. Stories roasted by coy commentary. We knew better than to take pictures of these memories that were already taken by the darkness beyond the firelight.
Not too long after, we swam under the nighttime sky. Music played. The moon slid across the firmament. A star bolted through the shallow distance, more than likely to pick up a compatriot left behind. And just before the homesickness could sink in, we returned to our bunks.
I grew up in ship, cabin, van and train bunks. Later, I would sleep in tour bus bunks and now, as a grown man, I talk a lot of bunk. But I enjoy them all. They’re a great place to reflect on the day, something I don’t often get to do in my sprints through life. Something about a narrow sleeping space condenses dreams and nightmares and far-off thoughts into the yet smaller volume of your head.
Morning came and I woke up with a manmade lake from an open water bottle in my tiny bed. I was only partially annoyed. With the smell of campfire smoke still in my beard, I sat up. Two of my compatriots had already left their sarcophagi, drinking by the water.
With each minute, the sun rose and burned our skin, urging us home. Nature was beckoning us back. Some of us slept during the ride, the rest listened to TV show theme songs as we reentered the atmosphere of our lives. Exhausted and reinvigorated in one dance.
But that’s the nature of rebirth as an adult. It’s not about starting back at square one. That can never be, again. It’s just a word salad of feelings and energies. We must chart our course, in spite of it all, and because there is a horizon line. Do it with friends. Keep it wild. Disappear for long enough to find your way back. Make your presence mean more.
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Disclosure: We’d like to think that Toyota thought HowToBeADad.com was cool enough to have an adventure without dismembering its participants. With only minimal bruising and maximum enjoyment, we thank them for underwriting this journey.