Reminder From a Lake

I’ve said before that I think the default state of creation is peace. I’ve also said I think human beings might be unique in our ability to not see that. Today I want to explore that idea some more.

A couple years ago my family took out first vacation together. We’d been on other vacations with other people or as just my wife and I, but that year we took the kids and it was just us. We went to Warren Dunes state park on Lake Michigan and camped for a few days. We didn’t plan anything except being on the beach and walking in the park.

We got there on a Sunday afternoon so all the weekend crowd had pretty much cleared out. The weather was chilly for early June so the summer weekday crowds weren’t really very big either. We had our run of the whole place for the most part. There was rain in the forecast so I was nervous. I was the only one in the family who had ever been tent camping before, and this was the only chance all summer we were going to get. I had used almost all of my vacation days for this trip. I was excited but there was an uneasy feeling in my belly. I wanted this to be perfect.

The first day we arrived and got set up. There wasn’t a great place to hang a tarp over the picnic table and we forgot a couple things, but we were here. We headed to the beach. The campground is in the woods and there is a paved road to the lake. My kids have never seen any body of water bigger than a river or medium sized lake. When we pulled out of the woods and around a bend the sky is all we could see. The road leading to the lake comes out on top of a dune and the lake and sky split the scenery and the view is breathtaking. Everyone I. The car gasped and I knew we made the right choice in our destination.

After the initial excitement, the kids were swimming, my wife was relaxing and I was walking along the edge of the water. We were there until the beach closed at about 9:30. We went back to camp, had some food and fell right to sleep. Another thing I was worried about. We love our mattresses. I didn’t know how well the hard ground would go over. Enough blankets was one thing we forgot. It worked out though. My wife is hot blooded and it was cold at night. It was a rare opportunity for us to sleep like a movie couple, clung to each other.

The rest of our time there was the most relaxed I think I have been since our first daughter was born. There were no plans, nowhere to be, nothing to do. We swam when we were hot. We hiked when we were cold. We ate when we were hungry, and we slept when we were tired. There was not a care in the world. I hadn’t known peace like that since I was a kid.

When we got home the peace lasted weeks. The kids behaved, things didn’t get to me like they had. My wife’s anxiety was non-existent. For weeks.

Looking back, I put a lot of effort into planning for that trip. I planned for the perfect time of year. I looked for a place to stay that wasn’t too touristy or right on a highway. I planned all the meals, and bought all the gear. I even looked at maps and planned which trails we would hike on which day. I tried to make it perfect. As soon as we drove over that bluff and saw the lake I abandoned my plan. The sounds of the water and the trees and the smell of camp smoke and not wearing shoes for 5 days straight really melted off the stress. It was a real vacation.

That trip was the epitome of rest and peace. It reminded me that the default state of nature is peace. It was a turning point in my adult life. My wife and I discovered something on that trip. We can reconnect to that peace. And it is in fact less rather than more that makes it possible.

-Adam

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