Last week, my partner and I took a back-country camping trip into the heart of Adirondacks’ West Canada Lakes Wilderness. For five days, we were surrounded by pine, spruce and hardwood, felled trees disintegrating into forest floor, a pristine lake with a beaver dam about 100 yards from our tent, whole micro-ecosystems living out their destinies in small pools and ravines, mountains blanketed with morning mist, and all manner of living creatures carrying out their quotidian acts of survival. A huge electrical storm swept through one night, with impressive cloud to ground lightening and raucous thunder peeling out in the magnificent stretch of sky. Billions of stars lit up the cool night sky afterwards.
It took a little while to shed the layers of civilization that we carried into this landscape, but after a day or two, we noticed ourselves becoming more and more at one with the pace of life as we breathed in and out the incredible energy that enervated all life in one of the most wild places left on the East Coast of the U.S. It occurred to us how easily we could peel away so many of the so-called “conveniences” of life that actually make life so much more complicated.
No computers, no cell phones, no running water, no air conditioning, no oven, no restaurants, no running this or that errand, no checking bank accounts and paying bills, no making this deal or going to that meeting, no strategic planning, no profit-forecasts, no microwaves that kill food, no electrical wires, no eerily flickering TV’s, no annoying commercials on the radio, no endless miles of pavement, concrete, steel and glass, no air pollution, no honking, no pissed off drivers weaving in and out of lanes, no billboards trying to sell you stuff you don’t need, no shopping malls selling stuff to teens that they don’t need, no hot showers, no running to the grocery store, nothing we had to do and nowhere we had to go. The only thing we had to do was just Be One with Our Nature.
Hollows between the roots of a great tree were our lounging chair. A good portion of the day was spent drawing water (thank you, lake) and collecting the abundant sticks lying on the forest floor for firewood (thank you, forest). We practiced Qigong by the lakeshore. We listened to the sound of beavers carrying out their work in the middle of the night and smiled in our half-sleeping states. We marveled. We learned from the fire, from the water, from the air, from the earth, and from the few simple metal tools that we brought with us. We ate simply. We loved simply. We laughed. We were quiet.
I’m still a little in shock at our return to civilization. I am struck hundreds of times daily at how needlessly complicated we have made our lives.