“You’re too posh to go camping.” That was the challenge my fellow 60-something friend, Garry Greenwood, threw at me when he dropped in for a visit, and I instantly decided to prove him wrong. Even though I had been experiencing some physical challenges on my left side I was determined to get on top of them. Neither of my sisters can walk and I am determined not to join them. So, when Garry issued the challenge, I decided to set aside my limitations and go for it.
My first thoughts were about available toilets, but then decided I could always compromise. Limping around in the middle of the night was something I felt I could adjust to. Yes, I was up for the challenge.
It turned out to be a fantastic experience and one that has had a big impact on how I want to shape my life from here. I hugged a few trees and enjoyed the spectacular scenery. The past year I have been working really hard on a couple of projects, my head always full of thinking about my next move. I have never found meditating easy but I am grateful that my attempts have helped me slow my monkey mind, and I do enjoy a dedicated time set aside for meditation. However, even this dedicated time is also part of being aware of what I had to do next. I was beginning to realise that I had made my life far too complicated, and whilst that has had some benefits, life is certainly never dull, I did feel that as I hurtle towards my eighth decade, it should be okay to slow down.
My son, who often gives me advice — mostly unasked for — told me he had observed that I didn’t relax enough. “I’d like to see you do what you want, not always doing what you feel you should,” he said. When I thought about that, I could see he was right. For a lot of my life I was a single mum working hard to educate my kids and continually putting a great deal of pressure on myself. I hadn’t learned the art of slowing down, so now the challenge was on.
I was determined to do as little as possible on this camping trip, giving my leg a chance to heal. Garry spoilt me by taking care of all meals and making sure I relaxed. We passed many grey nomads who looked as if they had brought their whole house with them, whilst we had the bare minimum of equipment and didn’t need to be anywhere near electricity. It was the first time in my life that I had sat in the bush and done absolutely nothing. I was unable to do a lot of walking, but I totally lost myself in the beauty of nature and banished every other thought from my head. The biggest benefit has been that I realise how simple life can be and I am determined to embrace much more simplicity. Best of all I am learning to say ‘no’ and working towards doing what I really want to do. Just thinking about it fills me with joy.
I’m actually glad I was physically forced to slow down, my leg almost back to normal, so those who thought I was heading for the zimmer frame — I’m glad I’ve proved you wrong. I feel really well and my head has never felt so clear. Thanks especially to Garry for the challenge — the outcome has been far greater than I could have imagined.
Was I too posh to go camping? Certainly not and I’m looking forward to doing it again.