I recently went wilderness camping with my family. (Ok, wilderness may be a stretch. It was a provincial park, but we were alone on the edge of a lake, living in a tent without access to stores, plumbing or cell phone/internet reception. And we found bears! Well, um, bear fur).
It took a few days for me to relax into the different pace of life. I thought maybe I was going through withdrawal from mass media and running water, but that wasn’t it. I actually love being disconnected from everything and everyone. What was getting to me was not managing my day according to my needs and plans.
We got rained out quite a few times, so food preparation (hello, cooking over the fire/portable stove) and drying out wet clothes happened whenever the sun was out. We learned quickly that making dinner after dark is possible, but also means you’ll be eaten alive by bugs and doing dishes in the lake in pitch black. And the plan to have fresh fish as a food staple required early morning* and dusk trips onto the lake – whether or not it was pouring.
Nature was dictating my day and it was exhausting. Until it wasn’t. Then all of a sudden it was liberating. No matter what, you have to get food, eat, sleep, clean things/wash + dry clothes etc. Usually those things fit into your day, but are not the focus of it. When I plan my days, I outline work deadlines, yoga classes, meetings and so on.
It was good to be reminded that the point of basic survival is to do things we take for granted every day. Spend time with people you love, take the time to find good food, prepare it, eat it, be active, be able to interact with the elements/outdoors, pay attention to how weather and day/night affect your body. And just, live.
All the other stuff we plan and do can be great. But it’s not going to kill us if we don’t do it. So if it’s not essential, and it stresses us out, it’s nice to remember that we can simplify and let it go. And we’ll survive.
*Full disclosure: I allowed other people to do the early morning fishing