I had a chance to go camping last weekend in Indiana with a group of guys I know, some whom I met for the first time. Funny though, I’m on a work trip now and I just got back from my first trek out to Cuyahoga National Park here in Cleveland Ohio tonight. I invited a couple co-workers but they bowed out. Opting for a comfy booth somewhere at an overpriced restaurant.
I had been looking forward to closing the first day of our “go live” trip while on site at our client all day. Well, really since I learned we were coming up and I decided to get my own car just in case this situation of people bailing on me happened. The drive down toward Akron was great. I’m such a pedestrian and urban biker these days that I often times forget how relaxing and freeing it is just to hit the highway and go. The National Park was beautiful though I only saw a small fraction of it. There is a path called the Salt Run Trail that only spans between 3 and 4 miles so that fit within my limited amount of time. Still, it was enough to hear the forest life at dusk, catch the last rays of the sun dancing on the lake where some guys were fishing, get some deep breaths of pine scented air in my lungs and re-calibrate after looking at a computer screen all day trouble shooting with my colleagues.
It’s funny. One of my clients was deriding a fellow co-worker of his today who was aiming at retiring at the age of 30 and living on a fixed income of $1800 a month. making fun of his minimalist ideals. Golf, expensive cars and being a landlord are more this guys style. This always reminds me of my aunt. She always felt sorry for people who amassed stuff for the sake of stuff. I personally think she was right. There are huge swaths of life-time I have spent that I will never get back but other people’s objectives were met. Me? Well, I tried to tell my client that, had I structured my own life-path differently, given some impossible event of foresight looking backwards, I’d be living out of a van and traveling living off of a tiny income doing freelance work off the grid. I admire that lifestyle more and more as the years pass. I love the city, but, for me, home can be a prison.
And back to the past weekend. There was a lot of Tom-Foolery going on as it was handkerchief code weekend. So the men with all the fetishes were out in force among friends all having a good time. It was however, as everyone took a break from the party, that I had lit my campfire ring along with three of my neighbors. Me and my campsite buddy Tiger had set out a ton of chairs in order to create an atmosphere conducive to an honest to goodness campfire circle. Luck was on my side as eight of us ended up sitting around the fires talking and drinking beers, sangria and cocktails through the late hours of the night while the little bears, mice, were scampering around in anticipation of scraps of food later.
I had a moment of inspiration though when it just felt right to open up a topic to the group. Almost like someone invisible whispered into my ear. While I can’t share the actual conversation for sake of privacy and propriety here, it was an origins question. Roughly “what got you into X?” It was an amazing 20 minutes for me that felt nothing short of true connectedness between men who felt comfortable enough to let our guards down and share openly as if we were brothers. I suppose that’s why I brought up Rob in my story. He and I used to joke about being extended family brother types. His acceptance and courage was one of the things that set me on my own path. And while it’s been solo a lot of my life, it is for so many of us who are into X, Y or Z. I always did know, but this weekends campfire ring conversation drove home, very much, that I am not alone.
This summer, both work and extracurricular wise, has been one for the books. I’m gonna be sad to see it go in a couple months. But damn. The memories are gonna be great to hold on to for as long as I can. I feel incredibly lucky to have been here for all that I’ve experienced this year. Failures? Yeah, there have been loads. But there have also been some incredibly rare and beautiful moments. Like tonight by myself in the woods for a quick hike and last Saturday night in Indiana with my extended “brothers” sharing some big magic. If I have learned anything it’s do what feels right and good, then share that with others and, as Three Dog Night said it best, “Joy to the World.”