Reflections at the Campfire

Why is it so much easier to talk honestly and openly in the dark?  We sat around the campfire tonight, mostly quiet at first.  It was interesting to consider the thoughts that float into consciousness – some things that hadn’t been thought about for a very long time.  Of course, some pretty recent stuff as well.

It seemed so easy and natural to talk about some of the “stuff” in the dark – even say some things that I wanted to be known, but wouldn’t have had the courage to talk about during the daylight.  It was fun to reminisce, remember the important people in my life that are no longer here, and appreciate those still here.  It gave me the opportunity to consider the influence that specific relatives and friends had for me in my growing up years.  We talked about values, loyalty, acceptance – the kind of things that sitting in the dark, staring at the flames allow you to discuss.

Loyalty – we talked about employer/employee loyalty – that time when you accepted a job with the intent of remaining with that employer until you retired.  You gave your best to your employer because you knew that they were also looking out for you.  Brand loyalty – you stuck with a brand that you trusted because you felt that the manufacturer would stick with quality.  Relationships – again, loyal to them because you expected mutual respect, trust, and loyalty.  Sadly, that seems so “old-fashioned” now.

Acceptance – just my silent reflections, considering the influence of friends and family growing up.  I was one of those awkward kids – quiet, happier with books than people, not athletic (and frequently reminded of that by a few influential-not parental- people in my life), a rule-follower, and scared of most things.  Even though it would have scared me silly, I so wanted to be part of the “cool kids” group.  I guess as you gain more life experience (grow up, get older, whatever you want to call it), you realize that those “cool kids” didn’t really have so much more, and often had less.  Fast forward to now – I want to work on being quieter – listen more and talk less.  I like people more than books, although there is still comfort in books – especially a real book that you hold in your hands and turn actual pages.  I am delighted to discover than while not a “real” athlete – I can and do enjoy physical activity and athletic endeavors.  For the most part, I am still a rule-follower, but I also like pushing the envelope sometimes.  Fortunately, I am less scared of most things now.  There is still a part of me that sometimes feels the need to belong to a “cool kids” group, and sometimes I try.  Sitting by the fire tonight, I realized that the only real “cool kids” group that I need to belong to is the one attached by heart strings.

I am afraid of heights.  Not like the heights associated with flying and airplanes.  Maybe it is really a fear of falling.  We visited a lighthouse today – pretty small as lighthouses go.  It was open, and it was possible to climb the staircase to the top and look out.  I have tried many times in the past to climb to the top to see the view – in lighthouses, on a really cool path in the Badlands (specifically Notch Trail), and several other opportunities.  I thought today was going to be the day.  There was only Mom and Bill,  and they were looking around, so I started up the steps.  And chickened out, again.  I sat by the fire tonight, mad at another missed opportunity.  Honestly, mad and disappointed at myself for not having the guts to climb the damn stairs.  I could have asked Bill to help me, and he would have in a heartbeat.  Nope, decided if I couldn’t do it on my own, I didn’t need to see the view.  Nothing like cutting off your nose to spite your face.

Sitting by the campfire is a wonderful place to reflect, to talk, to share, and to appreciate life.  It’s a good place to fan the flames in your life that need to burn more brightly, and it’s a good place to put out the fires that shouldn’t be burning.  It’s a great place to start fires that need to be explored.  After all, it’s dark, it’s safe, and it’s inviting.

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