"From this hour I ordain myself loos'd of limits and imaginary lines, going where I list, my own master total and absolute, Listening to others, considering well what they say, Pausing, searching, receiving, contemplating, Gently, but with undeniable will, divesting myself of the holds that would hold me."
Walt Whitman (1819-92)
"When I look back now over my life and call to mind what I might have had simply for taking and did not take, my heart is like to break."
Akhenaton (d. c.1354 BC)
And now, the current weather, from some random person we pulled off the street:
Monday, September 08, 2003
Finally, the Sound Turned Off
lull Function: transitive verb
Etymology: Middle English; probably of imitative origin
Date: 14th century
1 : to cause to sleep or rest : SOOTHE
2 : to cause to relax vigilance
3 : Where you can be when you are staring into a campfire in the dark
Even in the midst of the hurricane, there is an eye.
This weekend, my wife and I went camping for the first time in a year and a half. And that's saying quite a bit, because I had decided I really hated camping in any form.
Our last trip was a disaster. We went to a state park on the Potomac and it was either hot and muggy or raining. I even managed to tear up my trailer jack in the process of getting it "just right" on the site for my wife. The van I was pulling the camper with was about to die (it did in fact die a week later) and would occasionally blow out clouds of evil smelling smoke. I was a ball of fury the entire weekend.
But that was just the last trip. The trip before that we attempted to hike part of the Appalachian Trail. I went to a local park and walked a mile up and down hills every day at lunch for months to get in shape. Then we climbed Crabtree Falls, a seven mile uphill climb. I figured that I was ready for normal trail hiking through some of the unremarkable sections of the AT in the Shenandoah Forest.
The week before we went, I was diagnosed as a type II diabetic and put on meds. Unknown to me, I was also bipolar, and was probably entering a depressive episode.
The net result was that we got to the top of the first mountain and I pretty much collapsed and could go no further. Which presented a problem, since the nearest water was miles (and another mountain!) away. It was not a fun night.
We bailed the next day, loaded up into our van, and drove home. Well, most of the way home, we had car trouble halfway. Again, not a good trip.
So, we went camping this weekend.
My wife wanted to go so bad, and I wanted to go only to please her. I figured I could put up with it for a day or so, no problem.
Now, there is one major difference this time. I am being TREATED for my bipolar illness. Some of the behavior that was so much a part of my everyday life before was actually part of the illness, and its not there any more. That's the magic of having the right medications, they tend to HELP you.
And help they did. I quickly realized when I was wiring the car (the pigtail had caught fire and burned off a couple of months ago, thats another story) that I felt different this time. There was a sense of urgency and a rush that I no longer felt. I had always felt as if there was a clock hanging over my head, some irrevocable schedule that had to be met, but I did not feel that now. I was relaxed.
How odd, to be relaxed.
So, I rewired the car, no problem. We got out two hours late, no problem. The campground we wanted to go to was full. No problem.
This stuff wasn't rattling me. And that was new for me.
We got there, it was beautiful. We set up camp, which takes a while. I just did it at a leisurely pace and rather enjoyed myself, didn't even get all hot and sweaty. Well, not much.
After dark, we cooked some wonderful steaks and ate them by lantern light. Then we went to sit by our campfire. And something happened.
Inside me, the storm just ... stopped.
It was like one of those moments when there has been some kind of background noise going on and all of a sudden it shuts down. You did not really notice the noise but its absence rivets your attention. And thats what happened in my head.
Just ... quiet.
I sat there just breathing, just enjoying the moment, watching the flicker of the campfire. I felt very peaceful, light, and it felt GOOD. I cannot remember feeling this good. Its been so long.
I had not realized what a constant struggle I was normally under to hold myself together. But I am struggling, every moment, from the time I awaken to the time I go to sleep. And I did not know that until the noise stopped.
I actually enjoyed this camping trip. I needed just what I got, and thats nice to have happen sometimes.
How sweet and soothing is this hour of calm! I thank thee, night! for thou has chased away these horrid bodements which, amidst the throng, I could not dissipate; and with the blessing of thy benign and quiet influence now will I to my couch, although to rest is almost wronging such a night as this.
Lord Byron (1788 - 1824)