The search for purpose and meaning is a challenge for most people. Some people are lucky enough to find it early on whether through a specific upbringing or the simple luck of going through a series of events the lead to a passion. Others struggle to find it or give up before their passion is found or materialized. In a book written in 1946 called Mans Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl it discusses how finding purpose in life helped many Holocaust survivors survive the death camps. Those lucky enough to avoid the death marches or gas chambers had two options, find purpose and meaning in their lives despite the horrid situation they were in, or succumb to the death and despair around them. Why though would I bring up such a terrible experience in this blog series? It’s simple because our search for purpose or more exactly our own meaning in this often-confusing existence can often mean the difference between finding happiness and not. Those with purpose or meaning, whether right or wrong are generally happier and live more productive lives.
So in this land before time, with no stimulus, and people who I don’t know that well what could I do with the seemingly endless time. While we had ample food, I thought about what people used to do. There were Builders, hunters, gathers, warriors, child rearers, etc. Of course, given my nature, I see myself as a warrior or hunter type. As quite clearly the opportunity to be a warrior was not on the table, hunting on the other hand was. Fishing was something I saw as an enjoyable thing. So imagining that I was truly in the land before time in a tribe, finding my purpose as a hunter seemed the obvious choice. Given no modern stimulus and all the time in the world, what would be your purpose?
The next two days would be mostly about doing nothing but enjoying myself, the beautiful surroundings, and attempting to catch a fish.
Waking and making myself some coffee was still a luxury I afforded to myself. Luckily for me, I had a small portable MSI Burner and Tin cups which allowed me to quickly brew my own coffee without hassle. Albeit instant coffee but I was not about to be picky. Growing up I had never been much of a coffee drinker as my father hailing from England made sure that our house had a constant supply of tea, Tetleys to be exact. Though in the IDF I was exposed to the Turkish style of coffee which I would gladly have when offered but it still wasn’t something I got into. Turkish style if you don’t know, or at least the way I was taught in the army was to boil some water, put the grounds right into the water letting it boil to the point of a mild froth. Flame off, letting it cool and the grounds settle. Then either black or with heaps of sugar. Of course, you have to be careful near the end that you didn’t get a mouth full of grounds but it taught me that in a pinch you really don’t need a filter.
On a side note, I found my fondness for coffee, like so many at University. On my second round of University to be precise. While taking a major in psychology (which I stopped in the third year for numerous reasons) I also re-discovered the Canadian love of Tim Hortons. Which was conveniently on every campus and was where every student rushed to on the breaks.
Ok so I digress, but coffee addiction is one of those addictions that seems to be acceptable, and hey most studies I have seen recently suggest it’s even good for you. The irony of such things considering several of our group were recovering addicts. The world is funny like that sometimes.
On this day, I knew I would be getting a massage from the therapist but I didn’t know when. It would be something I would have to patiently wait for. Though I had already made my coffee and had granola and honey when the group all awoke they decided to make a grand breakfast with the little BBQ that could. French Toast, Smokies, and Bacon for everyone except the two vegetarians who had vegetables and other items to satisfy. Terrance has recently bought a percolating kettle but the demand for coffee and the BBQ meant it didn’t last long. Someone thought it would be a good idea to close the lid on the BBQ while it attempted to brew. As one would expect or didn’t as was the case, this melted the various plastic parts on the percolator. This also meant that any time I made my own coffee with my tools someone inevitably asked for some, which I obliged until at least I started to run low on the third day.
Full from 2nd breakfast it must have been close to noon at this point I decided to take a nap. Terrance and several of the others went to a second waterfall back up the lake that was safer to access. I opted for the nap because well I hate cold water. I think I made the right choice, they, however, beg to differ. I awoke probably two hours later after they came back.
I decided to attempt my luck at fishing again. Initially, as I was casting from the lakeside I was only frustrated for every time I would try to reel it in It would only get caught on the rocks. I hadn’t figured out how to easily get it unstuck, something I couldn’t figure out until the next day. As I sat on the rocky beach trying to fish one of the others who had gone out on the boat managed to catch a rainbow trout. It was exciting though I was mildly jealous I just wanted to catch something. It got me thinking again about how primal humans lived. They might go days without something and now I can begin to feel the communal excitement every time someone came back with fish or animal meat. We have the privilege today of simply walking down the street in a leisurely fashion, or rushing in a car just to point at a package, put it in our basket, and walk or drive home without much trouble. This makes it far too easy for us to forget just how hard it is to get food without the convenience of the modern world.
It also makes it easy for us to forget the excitement from everyone, the congratulations, even a little envy that occurs every time hunters bring back protein for a village that relies on hunting for its sustenance. It also helps build a community, something often lost in the big city. No luck for me in the end, but I was happy that I was learning and that at least someone caught something.
Lunchtime or whatever time it was, it was the 2nd err, 3rd meal of the day. With my small stature and bear foot nature on this trip, with all these meals I was beginning to feel a bit like a hobbit. Perhaps this life suits me. Once again, I probably ate too much. Though I didn’t feel bored I didn’t have much else to do but eat. Doing nothing still, despite the adjustment is still and always will be something difficult for me. Later some coffee again. The massage therapist came back from another session and told me that I would be next and when she was ready she would come to get me.
Back to sitting, contemplating, and fishing from the shore. At Last! Massage time. I had wondered where she kept going with everyone for so long and I was about to find out.
Into the heavy brush in the forest we went. There was no clear trail, and again I was barefoot, all the little dry twigs and uneven forest ground was a challenge yet an easy one. Eventually, after a short time, the ground became soft, covered in heavy moss. A purple silk towel hung above a circle of rocks, a yoga mat, and a sleeping bag. This is what we would call the fairy grove. Clearly, the masseuse had put more than just effort into this, she put passion. It seems she at least, was one of the lucky ones to find her purpose.
Tucked away from the shore, in a clearing on the moss, I was to receive a massage. This to me is the definition of natural healing, or healing in nature, whichever you prefer. I couldn’t remember the last time I had a massage. While I fully enjoy them, they are expensive and again I have a hard time relaxing. This experience though was sorely overdue. Time continued to melt away as their hands did their work. Somewhere else in the world the same thing might cost hundreds of dollars, but without a care in the world, I think I finally relaxed. I am not sure how long it was, half an hour, an hour, I don’t really know. When it was done, we talked. Talked about our lives, where we were at, and personal things you might not normally share, yet in this idyllic place, it seemed appropriate.
Dinner! Yup, it was the hobbit life for me.
This would be the last day for the entire group as the Germans and Angel hands therapist would be leaving in the morning. The goal for us would be to leave the next day after a late breakfast and head up the mountain hike that Terrance had mentioned but for now food and relaxation. When it got dark the stars were out again I remember how much I missed looking up at the starry sky from the desert when I was in the Military. The milky way, satellites whizzing by, shooting stars, the constellations. All these things we sorely miss in the city and something I believe we are at a great loss for not seeing. You can’t help but wonder in Awe as you look up into the vast expanse.
The next day rolled on by. I Woke and made coffee as was now my morning routine. The Germans etc had already left. They must have left at 5 am or so just as the sun was rising, I did manage to say good by the night before. It seemed that though the sun would rise just after 5, and up by 6 I would wake up anywhere from 7 to 8. Even if I awoke early I would go back to bed despite the fact I kept telling myself I would get up with the sun and go fishing. The early bird catches the worm after all, but alas, I was too lazy, or relaxed. Either justification was fine with me.
It had been decided the day before that today would be a day of relaxation for all. A slow morning, and 2 breakfasts as usual. I knew though the lack of general activity would make me pay as is the nature of things. A group of us decided to walk up the coast into a sheltered bay, one in which the waves couldn’t quite reach. This we thought we be a perfect spot to fish. As we clambered across the shoreline to reach the spot we could see little minnow-like fish hiding in and around the rocks. We eventually reached the spot. It turned out to be a good spot, as 2 others caught fish. for me, however, I had no such luck. Both myself and the fourth of the party continued to get our lines stuck, then I figured out a way to get it off most of the time. Except for the time I lost a lure, I think that made 2 for me so far this trip.
At some point, one of the lake families decided for no reason to come in with their speedboat stop right in the middle of the bay, and then leave. This would be the last of the fish caught for the day. Some people clearly have no consideration. Back to camp for dinner and more relaxation. Tomorrow we would be leaving to start our mountain trek that had been put off in favor of relaxation.
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