I was going to call this “Stop and Smell”, like with roses. But then I realized that I (or some parts of me) often smell, so I will skip that for now. Right now, I am realizing that what makes me happy most of all are the little things. Happiness comes from those things that I previously took for granted, did every day with no thought or consideration, or that were so routine I was blind to their significance. Happiness is seeing beauty in the mundane.
Today I am camping for free. Today I am sitting in the shade outside. Today there is a slight breeze and the air is warm, yet tepid. Today I took a shower and washed my hair. Right now I am drinking a bonus beer I did not know I had. I am happy. Oh so happy! Clap along!
My last shower was exactly 6 days ago. This is Saturday afternoon and my last shower with hair wash was last Sunday night. I frequently wash my hands when there is plumbing. I use baby wipes all the time to clean any part of me that is or feels dirty or in need of touch-up. I did rinse my hair once, but that was not enough. I do wear hats, but yesterday I could smell my hair. It was not a good smell. My toes have been dirty for days and no amount of wipes could get them completely dirt-free. Oh, and I had not shaved my legs or under arms for nearly three weeks. Generally, I can get away with over a week with little concern. I am tan enough that it was hard to see, but the hair was still there, getting longer by the day. I just felt dirty all over.
My recon revealed that the only showers were at the Oamak Stampede rodeo grounds. They were paid, and that was fine. I chose the shower that was an entire little bathroom. I got the toilet, sink and shower all to myself. My cost was $1.25 during which time I washed my self and my hair and shaved visible areas. Oh, but it gets better. There was NO hot water! Nope, none. While it was not as cold as a glacial-fed stream, it was too cold for an entire body experience. It was also plenty of time to get all the needed tasks completed. I quickly forgot about the temperature as I relished in my clean hair and feet. I even put on lotion! Actual moisturizing lotion for my skin. Damn, I smell good! In fact, I think I look pretty good all clean and sparkly. Wow, what a feeling. Clap along!
The funny part is that, in my previous life, I showered every work day. Monday through Friday. I showered each morning as a way to wet down or wash my hair and wake my ass up in preparation for my work day. This has been my schedule for decades. Habit, routine, normal. Something I totally took for granted. I enjoyed a lengthy bath on the weekends, or if I was working outside and got really dirty on a weekday evening. A bath to me is a sacred experience, complete with movies and scented water and mood lighting. I got to have baths in Hell’s Canyon and I loved it. In fact, I only actually turned on the shower head once. I would cue a movie, find some old bubble bath someone else left behind, and pray I got no visitors as I swam about in the little tub.
Currently, I am at a free campground. The tradeoff is that I have no access to water. Planning will be everything for this stay! I do have water in my jug, though I need to fill my extra bottles next visit to civilization. There was a motorcycle trip that my Former Spouse and I were on and we ran out of water. We fucked up and from the time we made camp late afternoon util we were down the road the next day, we had no water. This was in Nevada as we crossed what is known as the “Loneliest Road in America”. We got a certificate and pins for completing this drive. At camp, we saw folks with water, but they seemed like douche bags, so we chose not to ask for any. Water becomes really important when you need some and have no way to get it. I currently pack with me a filter straw that will allow me to drink water from even the most putrid of sources. Thankfully, this is still a resource I have not needed to use. That and the shit shovel. Leave no trace, baby!
And here comes the sun. In my current camp there is a two or so hour period where the hot summer sun shines and there is literally no escape. It is in the last hours of the heat of the day and you just have to endure. Thankfully, a cool breeze continues. Thankfully, there are some clouds. Thankfully, I am here. I get 3G a mere five minute walk from camp. Thankfully, I am.
In all this time, all this being outside and living in the out of doors and traveling around and doing my own thing, I am happy. I have moments of frustration, like when I am cold and cannot warm up. I have moments of fear and vulnerability, like when the tent imploded and my house was at risk. I have moments of miscue, like when I choose a noisy and busy campground. I have moments of fuck up, like when I nearly burned my face off with the new camp stove. But, the shinning glory, the icing on the cake, the reward at the end, is that these are all mine. These experiences and choices and happenings are all because of me. I choose this life, I choose this way to be. I choose each and every day I live in my tent on the road with the bugs and covered in dirt. I choose where and when and how I live. It is one thing to have external forces dictate your life to you, it is quite another when you are that dictator. It changes the game when you make each and every choice of your days, your hours, how and when and where you live your life. When you are in control of your very existence.
I am the captain of my soul, of my life, of each and every moment of my day. All of my doubts and my fears and my misgivings and my dirt and my smelly hair fade away when I remember that this is what I chose. This is what I dreamed of. This is what I worked so hard for. I wanted this. I deserve this. I have this and I am not letting go!
Give me dirty feet and smelly hair and leg hairs that go on for days. Give me cold nights and hot days and the endless pursuit of water. Let a visit to the local library and the thrift shop down the way be the highlight of my day. Let me always find good micro brew and an electrical outlet. Let my needs be simple and my joys unencumbered. This is what I asked for. This is what I planned for. This is what I craved, needed, longed for. This is living. This is my life as I choose. I make this happen. This rocks.
Cheers to whatever rocks your world.
Do it as much and as often as you can.