Six months and one week before my fortieth birthday, forty things I learned during a week at an AMC Family Camp on Echo Lake in Acadia, Maine:
1. Waking a sleeping child at 9:30pm and hauling her into a rest area to pee and get an iced latte does not an easy bedtime make.
2. Dry rocks are just as slippery as wet rocks.
3. Listen to your guide. She knows more than you do.
4. Being physically active all day long–walking to and from the bathroom, the dock, the game room, the library, and the dining hall, all of this adds up and feels so, so good after months of driving to and from work and spending most of the day sitting in an office chair.
5. I am in better shape than I thought.
6. I tell a lot of stories about myself. Mercury Retrograde + sleeping in a damp tent is a recipe for the subconscious mind to lay it all bare.
7. My impulse to bail can be strong. Like a kid who wants to leave camp early but is given no choice to stay, moving through discomfort and restlessness opens to actually having fun. Wanting to go back, even! Imagine that.
8. I can do the side stroke holding an exploding banana over my head.
9. Bingo is highly eventful. I’m amazed more folks don’t have heart attacks.
10. Reading these words to a room full of actual people was satisfying in a completely different way than sharing them online.
11. Two words: rain boots.
12. It is good to have opportunities to meet new people and not be brainwashed about what constitutes beauty.
13. Lobsters are much more interesting than I ever imagined. For instance, they shed their shells and for a time are completely exposed and vulnerable before growing a new one. And they can live to be one hundred! But I still haven’t developed a taste for eating them.
14. There are islands with thirty-six residents and working one-room schoolhouses in this world.
15. Seeing a bald eagle high up on a pine tree is truly magnificent.
16. A working coin-op dryer is a luxury.
17. Cousins make for best friends.
18. So do sisters. Eventually.
19. I did not crack a single one of the books I brought to read. It was much more fun to browse what other folks had left behind. I’m now two chapters into “Bastard Out of Carolina” and hope to finish it… by next summer.
20. The call of loons in the night is magical.
21. I really like having meals cooked for me. Like, really really.
22. I feel better when I eat three meals a day, which I almost never do at home.
23. I’ve never been “the hiker” in the family; Thursday and Friday were probably the most serious hikes I’ve ever experienced. And I enjoyed them–especially the more challenging terrain.
24. Cliffs rock. I think I’d like bouldering.
25. Life is better with a tan. But wear a hat.
26. The RMV can wait. As can the laundry.
27. Community forms right under our noses when we let it.
28. I hope I look and feel as good as my mom and dad do in thirty years.
29. Given the means, it would be easy to drop some serious coin on the work of Maine artisans.
30. Simplicity is not overrated, not even a little bit.
31. Wounds heal quickly with the proper care.
32. My ankles are like mosquito war zones, bug spray notwithstanding.
33. Just being near the ocean is medicinal.
34. Traditions are good to have.
35. I am a total creature of comfort and routine, and could stand to shake that up more often.
36. A seven-hour drive with my girlies is not half-bad. Especially when they’re making each other laugh and recording poop songs on my phone. And sleeping.
37. My family is expanding–and it’s time for future family trips to include my fiancée and her girls. Our girls.
38. Thirty-nine is not too old to rock a bikini.
39. Swimming across a secluded pond amidst carriage roads and rocky peaks is my kind of bliss.
40. Seems there are some lessons I have to keep learning, e.g. do not post pictures of anyone on Facebook without asking for and receiving their permission first. Ever.
And finally, one for good luck, because it can’t hurt: