It's easy to get caught up in the everyday clamor of things. And it's also easy to forget that the big wide world out there has a lot to offer; things beyond working in the business of journalism and dealing with the everyday problems of modern life. Sometimes we need a wake up call; not necessarily something bad, but something different.
Last week I took a vacation from the newspaper business and spent three days camping alone in the San Rafael Swell. It's truly amazing what a change of scenery will do for your outlook, whether it's a trip to a city such as San Francisco or New York, a resort in Hawaii or Bermuda, or just a short stay out in a beautiful and natural setting like the Swell.
It was the first time in my recollection that I ever went camping without another human being accompanying me. With the advent of our warm January weather I had been thinking about going since the first of the year. It was the best thing for my mental state that I could have done.
However, I couldn't give up all the gadgets. I had to take a radio with me and on Tuesday night I listened to the presidents state of the union address with a candle burning on the table and my dog seated by my side. While Bush addressed the nation I sat on the back step of my pickup truck looking out over the dark scenery, gazing at the gallery of stars in the sky. The middle of the week, in the middle of the winter is not a busy time in the Swell. During the three days I spent there I saw a van and a pick up truck, with those inside just passing by. That night there was probably not another human being within 15 miles of me. The deep dark sky with it's twinkling white lights held mystery while I listened to the leader of our country describe the problems facing us and his solutions to our dilemmas. Little did I know at the time that by the end of the week, we would all be pondering our efforts to reach out to those skies, just as we did after the Challenger disaster a seemingly short 17 years ago.
With so much uncertainty in the world, and with it seemingly growing every day, it's an easy thing to get side tracked from what life is really about. We all have our passions and those desires often get us into trouble. But passion is the joy of life and we Americans are lucky that we have time to pursue them, unlike many in the world whose main goal is just to stay alive day to day.
Just like many from my generation, I once dreamt of traveling into outer space from the time I was first able to hold a science fiction novel. It hasn't been that many years since I realized that dream would never become reality; my profession doesn't warrant that trip.
But those that have given their lives for the exploration of the dark void above, have made it possible for all of us to not only dream a little more beyond our realities, but to also have another reason to be proud we are Americans.