Has this world been so kind to you that you should leave with regret? There are better things ahead than any we leave behind. – C. S. Lewis
Forgive me for applying a transcendent quote from a great writer, thinker and doer to a season spent living in a local campground. This campground has been kind to me, but I believe that there are better things ahead than any I leave behind.
Our stay is drawing to a close. Well, at least my stay is drawing to a close. Alane will remain in the RV for a while, as she continues to work during our transition. There is a lot I will miss here – some of which I’ve never mentioned.
I will miss Wayne, the grounds keeper and maintenance dude. He works harder than any human being I’ve ever met. He puts in 10-12 hour days, six days a week, yet he does it all with a big wave and grin.
Whether Wayne is cleaning the pool, refilling propane tanks, mopping the laundry room, running the office, repairing anything and everything, and trimming and mowing not only the campgrounds, but the 100 acres of land surrounding us, he’s happy.
A dog came from under his master’s camper and attacked Wayne as he was taping an invoice to a camper door. Speaking of missing things, Wayne is permanently missing a large portion of his shin from the attack. The emergency room doctor said he needed three days of rest. Where was Wayne the next morning? He was cleaning the campground pool at 6am in prep for a children’s swim class.
Of course, I will miss everything that I’ve shared with you, such as laundry mornings with Julinda. Who wouldn’t! I will miss chasing campground mysteries, like stolen plants, the returning dead and neat-freak aliens who are experts at cleaning up human biohazard waste.
Be honest. How boring was your life before you were introduced to Julinda and red poop tubes? I thought so. Don’t you sleep a little better at nights, secure in the knowledge that everything is connected, even cadaver dogs in Virginia and lost luggage in Iowa a decade earlier? You’re welcome.
Speaking of everything being connected… Author Tony Hillerman has some amazing pithy quotes from the Navajo culture in his novels. Here’s one from his book, Coyote Waits:
“From where we stand the rain seems random. If we could stand somewhere else, we would see the order in it.”
Our house was for sale for most of 2012 without a single serious offer. We received “the” offer after we took it off the market. Our six-week campground stay has lasted four months. After about fifty job applications that led nowhere, and dealing with the stress of turning down good positions where we no longer wanted to live, and not getting offers where we wanted to live, I get a call out of the blue from about job to which I had not applied.
A stranger asked if I’d be interested in a newly created position with an agency I knew nothing about, other than that they existed. So, Monday August 5th, I start in a research position with a company in Columbia, South Carolina, doing stuff that I’ve always wanted to do but didn’t know how to get there.
They want me to apply my 25 years of experience gained elsewhere as a fresh perspective to how they (I mean we) do business. What seemed like chaos and stress from my perspective becomes order in the bigger picture. How do I get there? I do what I did where I did it for as long as I did it.
By the way, if you are familiar with the television show, Big Bang Theory, I will be Howard Wolowitz: Electrical Engineer and the only non-PhD in a research lab full of them.
Nothing I’ve written about here at the campground stay was planned in advance. Nothing! In fact, I’ve put several dozen draft blog posts on the back burner in order to write about my campground adventures as they happened. We’ve seen pseudo-random things like lost luggage be linked with death-sniffing canines.
Yet it’s all connected, in spite of myself. That’s not chaos. That’s order. I’m not saying don’t plan. Plan. Just learn to embrace unexpected outcomes. The campground is strangely fascinating, yet it’s a small subset of a strangely fascinating larger world. In that larger world, I can be away from the campground, take a “random” shower on a “random” day at a relative’s house, and still experience the strangely fascinating.
I don’t make it a habit of taking my smart phone into the shower with me, but on this particular morning, it was useful to have it nearby. As the steam cleared from the glass shower door, I noticed something strangely fascinating (stop saying that!) on the shelf a few feet away.
I was being watched by three shadowy figures. It was exactly like when I was observed after first arriving at the campground (except for the being-naked-in-front-of-them part).
On the left, Groucho Marx stared at my naked body (Admit it. Who hasn’t had those nightmares.) …
On the other side of the shelf was W. C. Fields, nicely dressed, looking on in proud approval …
Ironically, as I dried off in front of the three voyeuristic dead men, I felt unclean, and fought off the urge to take another shower, only next time in the privacy of a neighbor’s house I didn’t know.
Maybe there’s nothing that special about the campground after all. Maybe the strangely fascinating part of life can be found in observing our circumstances from a different perspective. My campground experience has made me a better observer and hopefully a better writer and blogger. We shall all find out, as I post some of my stories on Mapping The Edge soon.
Until then, maybe we will cross paths somewhere between a random campground and a random research lab in Columbia, South Carolina… Maybe somewhere like a completely random public restroom … where we all will have something in common …