I’ve now been living in The Hilton for four months.  A couple weeks ago, I purchased a camping pass at Thousand Trails.  Since I get three days a week off, this turns out to be a perfect solution for my question about what to do with the weekends.  Until my parents died, I used to go visit them.

After four months of living in the van, I can truly say that it has been beneficial for me.  This past weekend, I bought a coleman stove and took myself camping in my van.  It was cold – freezing, as water that I’d left out over night was ice in the morning.  However I was warm and content as I slept.

The final night, I built a campfire and stared into it for hours as the sky darkened.  I’ve been grieving for weeks over the death of my parents, and that extended into grieving for the deaths of my two cats over the summer.  And after some time, the fire died and became cold.  I stood up and it was completely dark around me.  There was no moon, and no light.  There was utter silence, and frigid air surrounding me.  But I looked up and there were thousands of points of light permeating the sky.  Cold and brilliant stars.  At that moment, I knew the world was beautiful.  And though I felt small, I didn’t feel diminished, but bright, like one of the stars, shining my own truth and existence, and my life had meaning.

Living in four walls surrounded by my purchased things, the world was small, and it turned in on itself and weighed on my heart and on my very being.  But standing there, with only the basic necessities tucked in my van, I understood that materialism and consumerism blocks us from authenticity.  Our world becomes our things, and we think they mean something.  We are blocked off from the cold, the heat, the stars, the vastness of the world, and from it’s beauty.  We are blocked from fully experiencing the human condition in nature.  And so many of us are lonely.

During the day, there were so many birds in the trees and on the ground around the trees foraging for the seeds.  Beautiful birds, like blue jays, and plain small brown ones. They were all just going about their lives around me.  I just sat still and observed.  It’s no wonder that the ancients needed religion to explain their worlds.  The sense of awe is overwhelming, and they could put their place into their world into perspective.  But we are guarded from that in our modern world.  There is something about thinking the world is all about us that actually detracts, not only from the beauty of the world, but from the beauty of ourselves.