My family went camping this weekend. The quote from Bob Munro of RV is true. “If you really want to find out about yourself, put your family in an RV and drive.” Well, we only have a pull-behind trailer, but I did learn some things about myself and my family that both encourage me and trouble me.
I learned that both of my girls, Eryka (21) and Heather (13) like the slower pace of camping. They enjoyed sitting on the swing at the small bird sanctuary that encompassed a hundred square foot plot of land in the corner of the park we stayed at and watched for birds. They never did see the male Painted Bunting, but still they sat quietly for an hour or more each afternoon just watching the birds and squirrels eat from the feeders and drink from the bird baths. Eryka could sit by the campfire at dusk and talk ceaselessly about anything, while Heather could be curled up in a chair reading a book or playing a game on her phone. I don’t worry so much about her inability to disconnect from technology because she eventually got tired of the game and took off on her bike around the campground.
I learned that my husband Robert gets bored if he doesn’t have something to do, whether it’s grilling out, watching football, or piddling around the camp site. I worry that he won’t be able to enjoy retirement with me, traveling around the country in our class A (when we get it), staying at campgrounds for a month at a time. If he doesn’t have something to do, especially outside in his own yard, he gets bored. This concerns me about our future retirement.
I learned that I love the quiet peacefulness of camping. The slower pace, the simple choices of fishing, riding my bike, or taking a nap mightily agrees with me. If I could perpetually camp, I would. I think the closest I could come to this feeling of slowing down and enjoying the nature around me would be to find a few rural acres near a river in my home state of Florida and park my camper there. And I’d definitely live in a camper so I could pick up and travel when I wanted to.
But I’d have to make a living somehow. And after reading Ben Hewitt’s book Saved I find myself contemplating the life I’m living now. I’ve begun giving serious thought to what Hewitt calls conscious economy, which I have come to understand as meaning an economy in which one chooses how his money (and therefore, his life) is spent and how those purchases enhance his well being as opposed to the traditional commodity economy which implies how poor a consumer is based on what he doesn’t own. If my understanding of conscious economy is off target, Ben, forgive me.
The work I am doing now to make a living fully supports an unconscious economy, one
is in which healthcare, techno gadgets and keeping up appearances dictate the number of hours I work. Really, I don’t care about appearances as much as my teenage daughter; even our techno gadgets are last season. But healthcare is a necessity with a disabled child and I choose not to be a burden on society by funding my own healthcare through my work.
I question whether I can have a conscious economy outside of my marriage or my family. How will consciously choosing what I spend my money on affect these relationships and my sense of self-worth? I also wonder if my circumstances change, would I be happier? Maybe, maybe not.
Maybe, for now, instead of changing my circumstances I should change my mind set.