A few years ago, I decided that for my vacation I was going to go camping. I have gone camping since I was in my early twenties and have always enjoyed the experience. What made this trip different was that I was going without family or friends, so I was going to be entirely on my own. I picked a site in Wisconsin right on the Mississippi River for the aesthetics, good fishing and the possibility of seeing eagles.

Now this wasn’t a remote site, mind you. Several years ago, a few buddies of mine and I had traveled into the Wyoming wilderness and really roughed it. No bathing facilities other than streams or lakes and we had to hang or lock our food in bear canisters. But this time was going to be a little more comfortable.

Well, it was very humid and warm, and the mosquitos were having a field day. But despite all that, I had the opportunity to just sit back and think about my life and what was going on in it. I did see an eagle or two, hiked a lot, sat by the river and thought, caught no fish but had a fun time trying, and still had wonderful meals in front of the fire. I gained a sense of pride that I could set up and keep camp on my own with no one to pitch in and help. It also gave me the wonderful opportunity to pause and think about what I value in life – my family, communication from some wonderful friends and family, and the bonds with people I have developed and nurtured. I thought how lucky I am to take the time to enjoy those who are dear to me, even though life tosses curves at you every now and again. Life and situations change every day, and it is how we react to those changes that makes us who we are. Sometimes, it takes stepping back to realize that there are people and things right in front of you that you cherish the most. You just need to clear your head from your typical running around every day to see them.

I’m glad I had the opportunity to learn that lesson. I wonder where I’ll go next year…