All Things In Perspective

7 Jul

This last holiday weekend our family made our annual Fourth of July pilgrimage to Bear Creek Lake to go camping.  I’m not even certain how it came to be three years ago that we elected to go camping over the Fourth of July.  It could have been because of additional vacation time, but more likely I expect it was because I didn’t want to have to go through the hullabaloo associated with fireworks.  Whatever, the source of the tradition, this is how we now spend an extended Fourth of July weekend each year.

While this year we included all of the standards – breakfast bowls over an open fire, canoeing into the deepest darkest corners of Bear Creek Lake, a multitude of trips to the “beach” and of course the smorefest – this year will stand out for years to come as a result of an unplanned adventure.

One evening after dinner it was clear that my oldest son was annoyed by some issue.  I read his subtle gestures and body language – arms crossed, eyes glared (when opened), iPod turned way up – many may have not picked up on these ques, but being the sensitive and in-tune mother I am, I did.  I suggested we go for a walk to talk.  Please note the word “walk”.  We get along relatively well and are able to have some pretty good conversations, so it wasn’t long before he was sharing his frustrations.  As we talked, we walked.  He led, and I followed absentmindly, engaged in conversation.  It wasn’t until after about a half-hour, I discovered he was uncertain where we were.  Fortunately I love exploring…even when there isn’t a real adventure, I like to imagine one.  So, I set forth – enjoying the heavy canopy of the trees and the mysterious sounds of the bugs and reptiles.  Following trail markings, guideposts and environmental ques, we moved forward, backtracked and strategized routes.  As the time passed we noticed the setting sun and what was once reminiscent of childhood treks in the wooded suburbs began to feel more like a potential episode of Survivor Man.  Shortly before the sun set completely, we looked across the lake, we had only recently boated in and noticed the boat house on the opposite shore.  For several minutes we considered swimming across as a last resort – what seemed for a moment as the only way we might be able to avoid a night spent sleeping in the woods.  Suddenly as I began to step into the water, I recalled a bit of trivial information my brain had clearly stored for just this occasion – the distance across a body of water often appears shorter than it actually is.  Suddenly I envision the very real possibility if we set out into the water, we could, very likely, drown in the center of the lake without ever being noticed.  Withdrawing my feet from the water, my primal maternal and survival instincts now finally switched on.  I set off at an accelerated pace, warning my son to watch his step as a broken ankle would critically impair our chances.  I commanded that he walk briskly and not stop to consider the sound of creatures moving through the marshy grass – either friend or foe we would not benefit from stalling.  I used all of my Girl Scout know-how, tidbits gleaned as a Cub Scout den mother and factoids learned through excessive TV documentary viewing to ensure the best possible outcome in what was quickly becoming a scary situation.  Thanks to some scary but good choices, the light of a well charged iPod, the grace of God our “walk” ended safely back at our campsite 3 hours after we had set out at 10:00PM at night.

A funny attribute about me is that no matter what my circumstances I am looking for the lesson or the metaphor in the situation.  Throughout our adventure I considered what was I to learn from this.  I most definitely learned that this old gal still has it – I hiked, on the fly, about 10 miles in Crocs.  However, I think the main lesson I gleaned from this adventure was priorities.  On an average day, I am greatly concerned with how to make my day more efficient, how to keep my house cleaner, how to generate enough income for the basics, how to school my children better, how to loose weight, how to run my business better…you get the idea, I bet many of these jive with our own day-to-day thoughts.  During that three-hour adventure my only thoughts were how to keep us safe and get back home and how much we must be worrying the rest of our family uncertain of what had become of us.  Not once did I consider health insurance or grocery bills, developmental delays or remedial reading lessons, rap lyrics or lip gloss shades.  For that moment, God gave me an opportunity to see that ultimately if all I have is a safe place to sleep and the well-being of my family, everything else will work itself out.

So as you are swinging on your trapeze or stepping out on the high wire – don’t worry about the acts in the other rings, the quality of the cotton candy being eaten or whether the elephants have been receiving their vitamins.  Simply focus on the basics and enjoy the breeze in your hair as you swing through the air.


2 Responses to “All Things In Perspective”

  1. Jen July 7, 2010 at 5:30 pm #

    Love this, Joyce. Great job putting those thoughts into words. I love how you always, always, always strive to find God’s voice in the middle of the background noise, and to learn from every situation you find yourself in. Keep on keepin’ on, sweet friend. I love you so much.

  2. Terri July 7, 2010 at 8:36 pm #

    Well said! And you go! 10 miles in your crocs 🙂

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