No, I am not Abbot or Costello, however the way they looked at the world and parodied it resonates greatly with me. As I was reading the journal of Dorothy Wordsworth for my class and in thinking about “the good life” and “nature” camping suddenly popped into my mind. But just as it brought to me the relaxed feeling of “getting away” it also brought to me anxiety. Why? Because there seems to be a process for everything in this day and age and trying to relax seems to be more work than it should be! This is the same reason I was afraid to fly! Not because I’d much further off the ground than I’m used to or that something on the plane may malfunction and I’d die, but because I had never flown and I knew there were very specific processes which had to be followed that could be met with a variety of consequences if done wrong. Processes encompasses my fear of driving to places/parking in places I’ve never been/are unfamiliar with. Some people can be understanding when one is inexperienced with a process, but it seems so many people get frustrated when others are in unfamiliar territory. Of course, being in a Master’s program I am well aware that the more one knows the better off (generally) they are, especially in knowing the loopholes of a process, but this is also what gives me anxiety in being unfamiliar with something I want/have to do.
There are even rules for hanging out outside, specifically, camping. I’ve always been intimidated by camping because I didn’t know how to do it. Sure you mainly need a tent and sleeping bag, but there’s so much more to it. The first time I went camping was with my old boyfriend and his family at a local camp ground where most people seemed to have campers. This was not really the camping experience I’d had in mind, but it was fun nonetheless. Old boyfriend and I just had to set up our tent where his parents told us to and hung out by the fire until it was time to go to bed.
However, the second time I went camping there was a bit more to it. We had a secluded area with tents (his friend was with), a fire, the gathering of wood for the fire, using that fire to cook our dinner, and the boys fished. Mind you I wasn’t anticipating the raccoon that I later had to deal with, but still, that was closer to what I thought camping would be like. But there was more to it than that; there were processes to be followed!
For instance, you cannot just pitch a tent anywhere you’d like, you’re generally supposed to find specific camping grounds to do so. I mean, I could very well get into trouble for camping in my front yard! Granted I live in a townhouse that I rent from a company, but there’s yard right out in front of me that goes mostly unused aside from aesthetic purposes, lawn care, and a LARPer and his friends who live near me. If I wanted to camp in the yard in front of me I’d have to ask permission from my landlord and could very well be denied for various reasons (i.e. I was told we were not allowed to have patio furniture in the huge unused space on the side of our townhouse because it’d be something that would have to be moved when the lawn was mowed). And I’m pretty sure a fire would be OUT of the question! Due to the standard camping rules and regulations I’m left to finding a spot where it’s acceptable to place a tent and have a fire…maybe even a place to fish or swim.
Some camp grounds even require a reservation, whereas others leave it to a first-come first-serve basis. Where you camp also depends on if you’re going to have a single tent or multiple, an actual camper or not, or depends on family size. For instance the park ranger (I assume) let us stay where we were, but technically unless my boyfriend’s friend was our child he could’ve made one of us move to another location. There was plenty of room for a few more tents in addition to the two which were set up, but there was a rule that unless we had a separate tent for our child[ren] we could technically only have one tent set up where we were. The ranger also had to note down who we were, take down our car information, and we had to pay a fee to be there. Yea, it makes you feel safe that everyone is seemingly accounted for, but it really felt like I was checking into a hotel less the walls and toiletry. There was also a rule that you were not allowed to cut the wood from the trees for firewood, but as my boyfriend (at the time) told me anything on the ground was fair game, otherwise you had to buy your own and bring it. Which I saw on a site that there was an issue with a certain kind of wood being brought in and there was a process about that, “Firewood Ban Due to infestations of Emerald Ash Borer, Out-Of-County firewood without proper IDALS labeling is NOT permitted” (http://www.scottcountyiowa.com/conservation/west-lake).
It may not seem like much, but the fact that I have to go to a designated area where camping is allowed, check in with a ranger, pay, be told how, where, and with what I can make a fire, how many tents were allowed despite there being space for more, etc. was just too much for me. This was exactly how I felt and still feel with flying. There’s a process for parking, checking in, what can and cannot be packed, what can be taken as a carry-on and what needs to be checked, what devices can be used on the plane and what cannot, how to get through the screening area…I remember I had to take my laptop out of my bag and put it into a bucket, take my shoes off and put them into a bucket, make sure I didn’t have my knife in my purse and put that into a bucket (What? You never know when you’re going to need a knife! I use it mostly to open packages and such), have my i.d. and ticket out, I worried my tongue ring/belly button ring might set off the alarm, etc. Then when you’re on the plane you have to shut your phone off, trays need to be in a certain position at a certain time, you can get up during this time and cannot during this time, and you have to wait until it’s time for your drink/meal if applicable…and many other things I’m sure I’m forgetting as I haven’t flown in YEARS!
Then parking. Ugh! There are signs where you can/can’t park on a certain side of the street, that your car has to be moved by a certain time for snow plowing, there’s no parking allowed between this time and this time on this date and that date, there’s 2-hour parking only and you cannot “repark,” this parking is for this establishment only, this spot if for loading and unloading only, during the evening it’s okay to park anywhere, this parking is for this tenant only, but it’s not marked –just supposed to be common knowledge, people are parked in the grass –I’m not sure if this is allowed, but I’m going to do it because other people did it, this spot is for this size car only, etc.
Yea, this is just sort of the way of the world and I’m sure there are reasons for everything, but it just gets exhausting. I didn’t even list a whole bunch of other processes that give me anxiety! It’s not even the anxiety that really bothers me, but it seems to be so hard to do anything on whim because there are rules for everything. I wish I could just sit about and read and chat with intellects all day long and go for long walks wherever I want, but it’s not that simple. If I’m at a park after hours I could get into trouble! I had to wait outside of an arcade once because they were at capacity. I couldn’t go to a rally because it was encouraged to make reservations, but it wasn’t required and it was really first come first serve and I didn’t want to stand in line for three hours to go. I had to put my purse back into my car because you “couldn’t have weapons” at the Social Security office (my knife, remember?). Some places only take cash or check while others only take cash or card and some places won’t take cash at all! You can’t take you phone into the courthouse anymore. You have to learn about bats and tracking things in and out of the caves before you’re allowed to trounce about Maquoketa Caves like in the good ole days.
In reading and thinking about “the good life” I’m having trouble figuring out how to be as leisurely as those were when they spent more time reading, writing, and conversing with one another. I’m just a little processed out. My good life involves less processes…and maybe a beach. What are some processes that drive you nuts?