Last night I drove out into the desert to take in a sight I have missed for far too long–the Milky Way. Sounds easy right? Just look up – and the stars are right there. But the local light pollution was only allowing the brightest stars to show, and I craved that amazing splash of milk bubbles!
A little back story–I come from a family of campers. We tent camped because we couldn’t afford an RV. But we were also Girl Scouts, and I was so glad to be a part of that wonderful organization which fostered an appreciation of service, stewardship, outdoor life, and of course camping!
Family summers were spent driving up the coast of California and into Oregon. I could probably show you all the places we knew to stop for the best views of the coast and places to explore. But I also know how seriously the whole family took finding the best apple fritters, and glory of glories, dark chocolate covered orange sticks and honeycomb candy (hey, dark chocolate was a true rarity in the 1970s!).
Setting up the tent came first, right after the long road trip getting to a favorite spot. No matter how carefully you smoothed out the ground, the biggest rock always found your back in the wee, beastly cold hours of the morning.
Spending the entire day in a bathing suit, exploring the river, the trees, and the trails helped develop our minds, bodies and mostly imaginations. We gather to make a campfire dinner, talk, laugh, then eat a fair amount of dirt and cinders on those screaming hot marshmallows — it was required! After scary ghost stories and the last sticky bits of s’mores are consumed, finally it was time for bed.
Never and I mean NEVER does the last pee avoid those cold, dark, after midnight, hurry up, now, I have to go so bad trips to pee!! You’re getting chilled to the bone, possibly lost deep in the woods, and trying desperately not to pee on the boot laces you were too tired to properly tie before leaving said tent…. sigh.
No matter the bathroom challenges, it was always great to be snuggled in a warm sleeping bag while looking out, on a cold night, seeing the same sky as folks did thousands and thousands of years ago–and isn’t that staggeringly amazing to consider?!
So what does this story have to do with the Milky Way and creativity? Well, that was definitely one of the true joys of camping in a tent! You could stick your head out the flap and see a million stars, just waiting to be enjoyed, while encouraging amazement and wonder. And that can be a huge benefit for an artistic, creative soul.
Wonder and amazement allow the mind to dream, to wander, to seek, and find, reject and tweak, combine and disassemble a multitude of ideas never, ever inspired by 4 walls.
So I hope this inspires you to go out, breathe deeply the cold, clean air, and imagine worlds beyond our own, on a clear night, while the night sky winks its Milky Way secrets.