In meeting them I felt calmness. Quite, wise and understated, their combined experience could enlighten the most seasoned of philosophers or travelers. Their words spoke of a better life and their world point-of-view was as current as the most youthful of researchers.
For one week I have replayed my feelings since meeting them. Their countenance replaying in my head, I’ve been redirected to take a few weeks leave from my daily entries; and, partially due to a 5 day camping trip in where I met them, I’ve temporarily pulled away from my Microsoft Word escapism. Even more resolutely, my now admitted addiction to the vices of a social media. Moro Bay camping has cornered me, and looking into the mirror of my lifestyle, I’ve been pressed to examine my own daily rituals. We all have them. But do we take the time to slow down to review them? A question that I am sure we all address as we form our personal approaches to affirmations and spiritual growth.
My heart is full from listening. From the quite of the trees to the sound of cracking campfires; through the smell of burning logs and the taste of open cooked food my senses have been awakened. My eyes rested from non-electrical light; my chest lightened in taking holiday from the cravings for streaming social approval. I am seeing clearly. Motivated away from my iPhone activities–even as well intended as they are. Reminding myself, and us, of the simple blessings that come from the most wonderful of sources: Our fellow-man.
We’ve labeled a term, “we are we.” Its call asks us to look upon each other as the unique and valuable individuals that we are. People linked to a common core need to feel safe, secure and loved. People who all, from whatever nation, background or circumstance share equal stake in desiring the fulfillment of their dreams; a universal evidence that continues to evolve as we grow together in accepting the wisdom of the thousands who have shared through the interviews, contributions and comments of Operation-365
So, I’m back now: Perched at the keys of Microsoft thought flow. My retreat behind me; I write, inspired by the words of a few new friends, Ron, Ted and Mike. Three remarkably different yet connected men. All who have taken the courageous step to listen to their hearts in selecting their lifestyle. With varied vernacular they share a harmonious message: “Slow down, interact with each other, see the world around you; and by all means, please stop to smell the roses.”
We often think of bravery in terms of bold actions, in visions of martyrs and hero’s, as badges to wear or muscles to flex as we search for our greater selves. We yearn for our opportunity to stand out. We analyze our accomplishments, seeking that grail of experience that will carry us over the threshold of majesty.
Oh, to be brave? To stand strong for something larger than oneself; to be impassioned to heightened adrenalin; to be held high on the who’s who list of the remembered.
Yes, to be remembered. That would be nirvana at its grandest. But, at what cost do we compromise? At what point do we bend? Where do we draw the line in the quest for heroism? For at the end of the game, who will present the final reward for bravery? Will it be the one with the most visibility? Will it be the one engaged in the battles; and what defines a true act of bravery; a medal, a ceremony, a statue?
For some, and well deservingly, the answer has to be a resounding yes. I could author a book on heroes; and, any stroll through history will reveal the many who have sacrificed and even died in the cause of just acts. Hero’s all, and all deserving the respect of our silent moments of gratitude.
But today we are celebrating a different tribute to the brave, the quite ones. The ones who are looking at each other with open minds and arms; the ones who are willing to adjust their lives to pursue knowledge while looking away from wealth or status: The ones who hold onto no greed; the ones who look upon the world with exploring hearts; the ones who have influence to change our perspectives on what we see in our fellow-man.
“We call it letting go of our homes of sticks,” they say as they explain the motivations for their commitment to a lifestyle of full-time RVing. That’s right; Ron, Ted and Mike live not in traditional homes, or subscribe to any one physical address. Yet, off the grid they are not. They are enlightened, intelligent and educated; warm individuals with a thirst for knowledge. Resolute to not become bogged down in the handcuffs of possessions they live by a standard code of conduct, “If you can live with less, this is the life;” and, looking into their eyes it is easy to see a well-developed aura of wisdom and peace.
Off the merry-go-round of status quo they have stepped, and in their words (for the next three days we’ll be publishing their video interviews) we are reminded of the importance of real face-to-face human connection. Each coming for varied histories they give us council of what’s important and of how to treat each other.
Whether it be Ron’s 30 years of active service to our country as a Marine, or Mike’s contributions to education, or Ted’s deep understanding of fellow man–a wisdom acquired after 19 years of living on the road, one thing is certain. We are encouraged to consider what not to take for granted: Each Other.
In a way we are all campers. Braving it out to find our paths of what’s right. Living in our homes of sticks, RVing the highways of our cultures and family dynamics, and although grounded by the security of leveled foundations, we are at risk of trapping ourselves behind invisible doors of comfort. As Ted says, “This life is not a good one if you are into your stuff.”