Camping & The Zen of Living

Campsite at Mussel Beech, Vancouver Island, June 2013For most of the last two weeks, I have been camping on Vancouver Island with my husband and two grown kids.  There is something about camping that pulls me down into my body and out of my head.  When I am camping, I slip into the Zen of living.  The line between work and pleasure disappears; every task becomes a challenge, a puzzle requiring a creative solution, or a sensual pleasure.  Each day involves a series of activities that fully engage me; cooking, washing dishes, setting up tarps, building a fire, taking a shower, watching wildlife, reading a book.

View from Mussel Beech Campsite, June 2013There is something satisfying about living simply, about requiring so few belongings, about using simple technologies that are within our control.  The empty container becomes a hand washing bowl for the week.  Ropes and tarps protect us from the rain.  We focus on the basics of life; creating shelter, staying warm and dry, and preparing meals.  It is grounding and satisfying.  It is physically demanding and mentally relaxing.

Exploring Tidal Pools on Mussel BeechWhen we are camping, we feel closer as a family.  We hang out together; each doing his or her own thing but sharing the same space.  My son sketches on a pad; my daughter writes in her journal; my husband plays with his camera; I scan the shoreline with my binoculars.  Each of us assumes different responsibilities around the campsite according to our interests and abilities.  I gravitate to the “kitchen”; enjoying the creativity required to prepare balanced meals with limited ingredients on one burner and a campfire.  My son loves the challenge of building a fire after a heavy rain.  My husband digs a trough to empty the puddle that has formed around the tent. My daughter re-arranges the tarp to protect the fire and wood.  We are all warmed by the quiet companionship and co-dependence.

Bear on the Beech, Mussel Beech, Vancouver IslandOur days are shaped by the environment in which we live.  The rain pushes us under our tarp; the sun pulls us out on to the shoreline.  We explore the tidal pools at low tide and move up into our campsites at high tide.

The creatures that call this place home provide the highlights of our days.  We watch for whales and sea lions on the water.  We are thrilled and humbled by the siting of two young bears that forage in the tidal pools along “our” shoreline.  A pair of Bald Eagles pass overhead several times a day.  Northwestern Crows, Chestnut-backed Chickadees, Stellar Jays and Winter Wrens pass through our campsite.  Oyster Catchers scour the shoreline at low tide.  At dusk, a Swainson’s Thrush sings its plaintive song.

I am back at home now, readying myself for my first day back at work, trying to re-focus my mind.  Recalling our holiday, I wonder how we can hold on to that feeling, the Zen of living, in the crush of modern life.

About kp

I am a woman and a mother, a sister and a wife. I have called myself a socialist and a feminist, an environmentalist and an activist, a pagan and an atheist. But, at this stage in my life, none of these labels feel right. I am searching; trying to find an inner calm; trying to make peace with life's disappointments; trying to answer the big questions in my own small life.
This entry was posted in Inspiration, Life, Love of Nature, Personal Growth, Relationships, Simple Pleasures, Writing, Writing for your life and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

14 Responses to Camping & The Zen of Living

  1. Marsia says:

    Your post reminds me how much I miss camping as a young girl we went camping all the time and I do remember the simplicity of it all and have very fond memories of those times.

  2. Enjoyed traveling with you as you relived your adventure. great photos and story!
    thank you for following me. looking forward to reading more delightful stories from you.
    sincerely, Eddie

  3. Loved spending time with you camping Kim, and Nature does that, brings us closer together as if reminding us we are ALL one family… Good to see you had such a wonderful family time together..
    Vancouver Island I was there in 2000. Wow loved Canada full stop we travelled coast to coast.. our Silver Wedding Anniversary treat!.. :-)

    • kp says:

      Hi Sue…it is true that nature does that! What a great way to celebrate your silver anniversary! We are very lucky to have so much space and wilderness in Canada; we tend to take it for granted. Kim

  4. Yes! This makes me long for another camping trip…always in winter, I can smell woodsmoke and wish to gather around a fire. The funny thing about camping is – to think about it seems like so much work. But when you get there, it is actually refreshing…even if the meals are somehow more difficult to make and the conveniences aren’t so easy. There’s nothing else to do but enjoy that moment for what it is…pure bliss.

  5. Pam Bickell says:

    You escaped to the real world! You joined with nature and your family. You slowed and communed –you separated from the rush. Wow, that has to feel good.
    And I’m so jealous–I wish I knew birds like you do. I love watching all of them and am especially fond of the chickadees. Thanks for sharing your treasure-story.

  6. Deliberately Delicious says:

    What a lovely post. I’m just back too from a similarly zen experience and can’t wait to head out soon again with my boys. The next time you come to Vancouver Island, you must look me up!

    • kp says:

      LOL…I might just do that!! It would be wonderful to meet you in person…and fun to see your community through your eyes!!

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