Sunday, September 12, 2004

Camping Lessons

(c) Andy Ternay
  • Zoey, the tent-destroying dog

  • The Goddess has ways of teaching me humility. She doesn't inflict things on me. Rather, She lets me use my free will to get into trouble.

    I am not a camper or a big outdoorsman, much as I would like to claim I am. So when I decided that I was going to go camping at WitchStock, my primary concern was that I not look like a moron in front of my peers. To that end, I have been researching camping with the fervor of someone planning months in the wilderness with no resources other than what he brings.

    So when I go the tent, the airmattress, the lantern, etc, the obvious thing to do was practice with them. I have gotten to where I can assemble the tent without help in 27 minutes (yes, I timed it).

    Last night I went to spend the night in the tent. Lisa warned me that the dogs would not like it for dad to be out there, but I pretty much blew her off. Especially since at the beginning the dogs seemed cool with it-they knew where I was and after some sniffing outside the tent, they wandered off.

    I went to sleep. It was pretty comfortable, not perfectly, but fine to rest in.

    At 3:30am, Zoey, our young one, decided she missed dad just too much to bear and ripped a nice dog size whole in my brand new tents' mesh door.

    Now, after writing such erudite spriritual wisdom on anger yesterday, I of course behaved as any spriritually mature person would.

    I yelled at the dog and threw a temper tantrum. I did not hit the dog (a vast improvement over past behavior). But my behavior again reinforces my belief that "anger ought to be left to those better qualified to handle it." The Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditons, p. 90 .

    So, I am feeling pretty stupid about the whole thing. Not because the tent has been harmed, but because I am now convinced that my friends will all see the repair and think, "wow, he really is an utter moron."

    It takes quiet time and prayer to get myself right size, to get on my knees with the dog and be grateful that she loves me so much she has to see me at 3:00am. Then I swallow my pride and call a friend with camping experience and ask for help and learn there is a repair, it will be ugly, but it will work. So I learn and so I let go of my anger and put the energy into constructive things.

    Pride is defined as an excessive or unjustified opinion of oneself. Spirituality gradually strips me of this trait, both an excessive positive or negative self image. I'm not an idiot, but nor am I a genius. There is nothing wrong with asking for help, it does not mean that I am stupid or weak. So, deep breath and let it go.

    My friend, El Capitan posted a comment below about my thoughts on anger and he is right of course. Anger itself is not bad, it is a necessary emotion. It helps protect us from the transgressions of others against us. It is what we do in response to the anger that is either the problem, or the solution. I still think we need to teach people, men and women, more and better ways to handle anger. Many people out there don't have a clue and sometimes, even today, I am one of them.

    I will disagree with El Capitan on one thing though. I won't use a gun to get rid of my anger. I don't think I can be trusted with one. If I had a gun last night, I might have a dead dog today. No guns for Andy. If I had owned a gun on my last night of drinking I think I would either today be in prison for murdering my wife (whom today I love so much that my heart quickens when she simply smiles at me) or dead from a self inflicted gunshot wound. Enjoy your shooting El Capitan, and I will not try to take your guns away. But I am not mature enough to own one and that is my bottom line on guns.