I woke up feeling disappointed and tight-chested about needing to move camp; mostly upset with myself for getting caught up in my excited -insistence on needing to be here, to the exclusion of the more practical issues, like camping regulations. Man, I hate waking up in this state and oh, do I hate making “mistakes”.
I sat with coffee, contemplating my options. There were many, all of them perfectly acceptable, but none palatable. Truth be told, I sulked while I sipped, clinging to my vision of what I “had to have” to be “happy” in this situation for a while before begrudgingly turning my thoughts to packing up.
Right about then, a neighbour drove by and invited me to walk. I thought for a moment about the time it would take to pack. I was getting quite proficient; it wouldn’t take long, and after all, it wasn’t like a had a check-out time. This was the perfect treatment for the icky feelings I was wrestling with. I’d walk them out.
The conversation was lively and my mood lightened as our steps fell into a quick, purposeful walk, the kind intended to jumpstart a day and clear the mind. By the time I got back to camp, I was ready to do what needed to be done, and my tight grip on my original plan to camp in the Magic Circle had loosened a bit. The sun seemed to have done it’s own special magic. Maybe magic gets through bare skin more quickly.
I would move further outside the circle, close to the nearest toilet, and still be a part of the community here during the day.
But I couldn’t deny that this path held certain uncertainties I wasn’t comfortable with. I wasn’t happy, but I was resigned. I worried I wouldn’t feel like a real “resident” if I were a “commuter” each day. I worried I’d feel like an outsider. That I wouldn’t feel like I belonged.
I remember hearing somewhere that the fear of not belonging, or being rejected, is one of the most anxiety-provoking thoughts a human can entertain. That’s because we are social animals, and our survival literally depends on belonging and acceptance within a larger group. I was also anxious to recreate the experience of camaraderie I’d felt at the RTR and the WRTR, which I was missing terribly. (Warning: the desire for connection, once sparked, can catch fire)
I decided I would fight the fears that came with letting go of my “perfect” plan, and see how being a day-time visitor felt.
I can be a little “all or nothing” when I’m anxious, and part of me wanted to just ditch the whole idea of staying in the circle altogether, and maybe even leave Quartzsite. Stupid Quartzsite! Dumb Circle! I can throw a doozie of an internal temper tantrum when anxious! Instead, I decided to sit for a few moments. I closed my eyes and breathed into my belly, imagining a place inside of me where all things were possible and peaceful.
Just about the time I felt completely ready to enter into my “plan b” of uncertainty – it was now almost noon – another neighbour stopped by on his bicycle. Once my brain stopped busying itself with perceived ideas about the discomforts of cycling in the buff (it sure appeared non problematic to him) we had a great talk about local hot springs. An hour later, my map had a half dozen hot springs marked on it, all within 300 miles of Quartzite (I have coil ring Atlas I use for this sort of thing, and to get good “big picture” looks at possible routes) and I was making loose plans to see them all!
After he set off (conversations here are typically slow and lazy) I turned yet again to trying to pack, increasingly convinced the magic of this particular circle was it’s ability to prevent people from ever leaving.
I hadn’t even finished this musing when I got a text from a friend who happened to be returning to the magic circle after being away for a week, and who was aware of my dilemma through a peek at Facebook. Before I knew it, I had this friend parked close by my camp in a self contained rig, so I had access to bathroom facilities if need be. My dilemma no longer existed.
Delighted with this turn of events, I relaxed into the day and the fading anxiety. Magic indeed. In my head I hear the words “you just have to wait for it.”
The rest of the day unfolded in a gentle, meandering sort of way. I enjoyed some online connecting, made breakfast and did a little writing. My friend and I went to Quartzsite. Pip got a great run at the dog park, which I didn’t even know existed the first month I was here! It and has a special area for little dogs and even a bit of grass.
I bought a light scarf for over my shoulders, to protect from the sun at the hottest time of the day. I went to a recovery meeting and we got back into camp just in time to prepare for the dance happening at the club house here in the Circle. Which weirdly involved taking clothes off rather than putting them on.
There were disco lights and a DJ and a surreal feel about it all because it’s happening in the middle of the desert, under a gazillion stars and silhouettes of cacti. Everyone brings their own beverages, and the floor is covered in a soft carpet that invites bare feet. I felt like I’d crashed a wedding but because everyone was having so much fun, no one even noticed. I took full advantage of blending in, and danced to almost every song with a giddy delight I haden’t felt in a long time.
And like a responsible, practical middle-aged-van-tramp in a clothing- optional camp, I was home in my bed by about 9:30, reflecting on the wonders of simply going with the flow.