Monday, August 03, 2015

Summer Camp

(picture credit

This last weekend I sat down to watch a morning news magazine on CBS and their first story was about a summer camp for adults. As I watched people play croquet, attend lectures and poetry readings and canoe across a beautiful lake, I thought of all of us and how a lot of us have been feeling lately. The response to my posts about being tired and needing a break was surprising and supportive of my feelings. I began to realize that I am not the only one feeling the need for escape. So, as I watched these carefree adults, sans their cell phones and relaxed and talking with each other, I began to imagine a place like that for all of us. Imagine this:

To begin with, we would all be able to afford to fly or drive to this wondrous place set lakeside somewhere in the mountains of the western United States. I selfishly choose the mountains because that is where I find my own peace of mind. There's nothing like panoramic views of snow-capped ragged peaks and the smell of pine trees and the allure of a crystal blue lake. In this place, there would be peace and quiet at night under the star-filled night sky and we'd all gather around a campfire making s'mores or laying on blankets staring up at the incredible night sky where countless stars would be twinkling and the vastness of the universe would be there reminding us how small we are in the scheme of things, how there is endless possibility for our lives, even though it might not feel like it sometimes, and how much promise there is in the future.

In the morning we would all gather for an early morning meditation in the dew covered fields in the camp and afterwards we'd walk, some of us in groups, some of us alone, to breakfast in the big main cabin where we'd have bacon and eggs and waffles with strawberries and real whipped cream. We'd talk about our lives, about the lives of our loved ones with schizophrenia and some of us would cry, receive hugs from the people sitting next to us and we'd all understand each other's anguish and even the joy that some of us are feeling because things are going okay for once in our lives and the lives of our loved ones with schizophrenia.

In this place, at this summer camp that reminds us of our childhoods either at similar camps or in some kind of escape from real life as kids, there would be peace. There would be lectures on coping with stress and others about finding ways to have a life outside of being caregivers. For those who are interested there would be a spiritual gathering where no matter our faith, we could gather together and pray and ask for better health for our loved ones with schizophrenia and even dare to hope that there would be a remission for a little while. We'd pray for ourselves and each other for anxiety-free days, a good night's sleep on a regular basis and relief from an almost constant grief. We'd also thank God or our spiritual leader for the gifts that we have been given like the strength to get out of bed each day, the ability to continue to support our loved ones and the gifts of strength and resolve to be good advocates and make a difference in the lives of our loved ones or even in the world somehow.

Our summer camp would last just long enough to give us some time to get back on our feet, to be able to breathe again and to be able to go back to our real lives refreshed. We'd gather in the parking lot next to the shuttle buses and personal cars and we'd hug each other, promise to keep in touch and give last wishes of hope for better days ahead. We'd climb in our cars, turn on the radio and begin to drive home. Our shuttle buses would deliver us to the airport to fly home to the life that awaits us and we'd stare down at the ground as our flight lifted away from the ground and we'd be grateful for this time that we were given to get away from it all for a while.

For all of us, the mountains would fade into the distance in our rear view mirrors and out our airplane windows and we'd settle in for the trip home.

This is my wish for all of us. This place, this escape, this summer camp where canoeing and swimming and sunbathing and talking and hugging and supporting is what I dream for all of us who are hiding out from life right now, exhausted, depressed, resigned, isolated and feeling alone. I know that for me, and for you as you read this, that this place exists only in our imagination. The truth of the matter is, though, this is exactly what we all need. We are all tired and we need some fresh mountain air to fill our lungs. We need peace, we need love, we need sleep and we need many things we don't dare utter out loud for fear of sounding like our strength is waning and we just can't go on.

Here's the thing, though, we can go on.

We can do this.

I can do this.

We are not alone. None of us are.

Otherwise there wouldn't be this amazing summer camp to escape to in our minds where we exist together, a group of people who all understand each other and support each other no matter what.

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