When we went on our first camping trip, we were at a difficult point in our relationship. I would say the final throes of a fifteen-year relationship that had seen the highs and brutal lows of marriage. I wouldn’t say that our first camping trip was a last-ditch effort, but it sure felt like it. Our marriage counselor had been nursing our relationship for two years at this point, and I was ready to throw in the towel and move on. However, all of what I know about camping today, I know came from this first trip. Let me set the scene…It was a dark and stormy night…
My first lesson was to truly say Yes to each other. Sonya had been camping with her bestie (Taressa) for years, and they had always extended the offer to me to which I always found a reason to decline. However, being that we were towards the end of our marriage and had been advised to say Yes to each other, I reluctantly said I would go. Which set in motion the next hard lesson, be flexible. When we arrived at our friend’s home in my new BMW, it was truly a dark and stormy, muddy, windy, and cold night. I ain’t lying. It was a scene of misery. Fortunately, we were able to catch a brief dry spell between some hard rainy periods to set up camp. To say that I was upset about my car being used as a camping vehicle and having to set a tent up in my friend’s front yard in the rain is an understatement. I wanted to leave immediately, check into a hotel, and take a hot shower. However, Sonya pulled me aside (Snickers commercial moment) and whispered softly to me, “You can’t change the weather or the circumstances of how we got here. This is the best that we have for now, but you can choose to embrace this moment and make the best of it.” She might as well have hit me in the gut because I knew that my life and our marriage had been summed up in those few words. So, I “manned up” and chose to be happy. I chose to be flexible and embrace the moment for what it was. I chose to laugh out loud with my friends at our plight, and I chose to love my wife at this moment. What ensued was a fun-filled weekend, and instead of it being the end of our marriage, it was only the end of a chapter in our story.
In camping, as in life, things don’t go according to your lofty ideas and detailed plans. People you love will fail you (as you will fail them). Places that you go may be harsh and unforgiving. Time is never on your side. But what I learned from that fateful weekend, that I hadn’t figured out in twelve years of marriage, was to say yes to my wife and new experiences, to be flexible under duress, and to embrace this moment in time because it will never be here again.
I chose the road less traveled, and I am all the better for choosing it.