We camped for eight nights as we kayaked in the Gulf of Mexico, first on an island, then unfrequented and isolated coves and beaches on the mainland. Though sleeping on the hard ground without pillows in tents with the wind threatening most nights to blow your roof and house away is uncomfortable and disconcerting, it takes you back to and reconnects you with the basics of life: even though we build elaborate structures to shield ourselves from the knowledge that we own only our bodies, and not even that, ultimately, the basics are a spiritual fact. Camping in nature — though we camped in style, i must say, with two cooks who prepared wonderful meals, and had amenities that primitive men and women would envy — takes you out of your comfort zone, and allows you to experience yourself in a new way. Believe me, I am far too attached to my comforts. The list is long but i will mention only that my bed with its temperpedic mattress, down pillows, quilts above a nice hot water bottle in its beautiful cozy, is my favorite piece of furniture, followed closely by comfy chairs. I am attached to all my things around me and my daily, though highly flexible routine. But there are times when all one’s comforts fail to comfort and then it is time to do something entirely new that blasts you out of your usual zone, like camping. I had meant to say that though I am rather fond of my comforts, I had been reading Viktor Frankl’s MAN’S SEARCH FOR MEANING before I left, which is an account of the author in a concentration camp, and it reminded me about what a basic life without any comforts and even food is like for humans. I kept reminding my bourgeoise self of Frankl’s experiences and thought in comparison I was living like a queen on a hard floor without my comforting pillows. As an aside: it is a wonderful book. Read it. Frankl is a psychologist and has many insights into man’s basic nature.

The problem is we all too often forget the basics — it enriches our life enormously to remember them.

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