There’s an erasure of time when we’re doing something extraordinary, which is even more special during these lockdowns.
Time is really strange when you’re camping. I’m not normally much of a camper. It takes me a while to situate myself in the mindset that my home will be a mesh tent, my makeup will be dirt, and my phone will be composite of plastic and metal that doesn’t really serve much use. Admittedly, I’m sort of addicted to technology and being connected to my friends near and far, odd news, and lifestyle stories. I also like looking at the clock, just to know what time it is.
On my recent camping trip, my friend and I played a game. We’d look at the sky and determine what the time was, without going over, Price Is Right style. Then, one of us would check our phones and see who won. Sometimes, we were within minutes, other times we were hours off.
When we were wrong, we’d recount stories of how last week, we went to bed at 7pm because we were tired, only to awaken at 11:30pm fully rested but needing to go back to sleep.
In the “time doesn’t exist game,” the sky doesn’t give great clues. Novice astronomers, we could not determine if it was 5:45 or 9pm. We couldn’t tell if we were hungry, as we’d been snacking for much of the day on Cheez-Its and leftover burritos from lunch. The nearly full moon cast a lot of light in the ink-black sky and stars still shone. I saw three shooting stars while I hula hooped for the duration of long jam songs.
Did it matter when we’d go to bed? It would be cold regardless of time. Did it matter when we awoke? The sun would rouse us.
Time makes us act rigid. We assume perfection when we have to get something done in a limited duration. We think we’re resourceful, but we’re really living in scarcity. We have to do all these fun things this week while the getting’s good. We can’t linger and see what unfolds. We may call it structured chaos, but it’s really all organized planning with some moments of surprise thrown in, if we allow ourselves to be swayed.
I like living in a suspended unreality. I like imagining things are easier, more glamorous. I call it the Disneyland effect, the experience of going to Disneyland and forgetting my worries and concerns while I’m living the magic of Main Street. Or, going to a three-day concert and the only things that matter are making sure my tickets are in-hand and we have rides to the venue.
We don’t need anything else when living in my suspended unreality (or in this case, reality). During camping moments, time doesn’t matter. Problems cease, financial woes abate, relationship qualms are forgotten. Nobody needs to get on a zoom meeting and text dings don’t interrupt our thinking patterns. We don’t have anywhere else to be, nobody to report to.
We’re present to the wind blowing and the sounds of birds and owls and crickets. We see ant hills and take time to notice shallow-rooted brush and cactus that’s shedding its summer growth. The sky is as vivid in the day as it is dark at night. Voices carry. Conversations are deliberate. Laughter lingers and our sides hurt from playing silly, earnest games.
And we don’t age. No mirrors to self-criticize our skin or brushes to detangle our knotty hair. In other faces, I see only beauty and happiness. I feel their wholesome essences escape from their bodies, untamed.
In the end, we’re the same as we are in the beginning, in the exact clothes we showed up wearing, just dirtier.
I’m a Coach and work with emerging entrepreneurs, corporate groups, people who are dating and looking for love, and young adults/teens. Please learn more about working with me here. I’ve also written posts about loneliness and nighttime anxiety, two topics that are relevant now.