Tuesday, 5 May 2009

Learning Camp

Well I just went camping with some friends and we had a great time. These are friends that I have known for some time. Each one in his own way with a commitment to living a spiritual life. This made for some interesting learning experiences. As ever with spending time away with a group of people, it called for acceptance tolerance and understanding as we all tried to get along as well as we could. Since though, everyone had put their best foot into this shoe of acceptance, it made for something of a remarkable atmosphere of support and community. Where one person had a gap in their kit, another filled it. So by the end of three days we had no need to washing up liquid guy or sponge guy to chuck it down the hill as both items had been considerately stationed by the wash tap. This did away with need to catch the flying sponge but other than that it was favourable.

We talked at times on a quite personal level and to hear people I knew well be willing to be honest and open was quite heart warming on the cool evenings. What lies behind the 'you' I percieve you to be is sometimes quite different. I came away feeling that these people, and perhaps everyone, deserved more love and tolerance than I usually give people credit for. Not least of all myself, of course. I left assured that we were alike in the respect of our determination to live sunny side up, shining forward into personal challenges now better understood while perhaps no less grave in themselves.

This brief trip became the testing ground for many principles. For example, we proved that it is easier to pack your stuff for the return journey than it is on the outward journey. The cause for this though remains a bit mysterious. Here's another one: 'pursuing winning streaks doesn't necessarily work'. I got a classic CD for a pound in the Heart Foundation shop then tried to follow it up with a flurry of quick buys at the CD and record fair Great Malvern. Two, to be fair, were good, it was just the drum machine on the Bobby Womack gospel album that let the side down. I guess lastly I learned that it is better to live the strengths and weakness of my fellows than among the chilling vapour of isolation.

Me and my most local neighbour both marvelled at one point on the kindness of the older lady running the campsite who seemed to have a natural balance and good will that most Londoners would not demonstrate. When I told her I was not feeling too well, this was on Sunday feeling a touch of faituge, she opened up the bunk house and gave me a blanket.
Camping of course lives and dies by the weather and, although we had a renowned rain-attractor in the camp, we did pretty well during the day although it was cold during the night. One among our number has proven that in the absence of a hat, you can wear pants on your head for some heating benefits. I personally was freezing on two out of three nights. I discovered that, amazingly, if you put a foil survival blanket under your roll mat it reflects the heat so well it feels like an electric blanket, in spite of the fact this was not my idea. I might be 36 but I am still getting used to the fact that my assessements are not always right.
You know most of us went away last year together plus one more friend who was to far away at the time but 12 months can be a long time if you live one day at a time and these men are different. These are friends who are committed to their personal growth and change right down line. Men who will look you in the eye in the newness of their discovered confidence promising that it does get better and that best may yet be to come.


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