Showing posts with label camping. Show all posts
Showing posts with label camping. Show all posts

Saturday, August 16, 2014

A Few Notes On Spirituality & "Beloved"

I just got back earlier this week from a week-and-a-half long vacation in Oregon. I had attended a music/art/spiritual festival called Beloved and I also got to see my mother, sister and my eight year old nephew. At Beloved, I got to spend several days camping with thousands of free-spirited hippies, many of whom take their spiritual beliefs very seriously. And I have to say it was a very enlightening experience. I spend my time around mostly secular people who rarely, if ever, show any strong outward signs of religiosity - even those who believe in god. So after speaking and spending time with several thousand people who'd probably self identify as "spiritual," I have gained a new perspective.

I wasn't there to preach to anybody. In fact I kept my atheism in the closet the whole time. I was there to learn. I was there to absorb. I was there to warmly educate myself on a slice of humanity that I rarely encounter. "Beloveds" as the attendees are called, are free-spirited hippie types, who mostly feel very passionately about the earth, the environment, humanity and humankind's connection to the spirit world.

On the first night, around the "sacred fire" where at night I would sit to warm up from the cold mountain air, one of the hosts gave a speech about fire. He spoke of the ways in which fire is misused, such as in war, and spoke of the ways it should be properly used. Then we were all instructed to give thanks to all four directions, north, south, east, west. I played along and participated, hoping that there would be a strong emotional response in me, but there wasn't. I seem to have an adverse reaction for group rituals. To me, anything that appears religious or cult like, such as group rituals, makes me uncomfortable. On the second day, we did another group prayer. We were asked to think about those suffering in the world and I did get an emotional response. It wasn't the group prayer that I think did it, it was my empathy for those suffering. I've had emotional moments like that all by myself and so I know the way my body and brain react. Group prayer or singing still isn't my thing. Even Sunday Assembly didn't quite rub me the right way. I was amazed however at some of the people attending who really seemed deeply and sincerely connected to whatever spirits they believed in.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Summer 2012

It is mid-September once again and you know what that means: summer is almost over. It seems that every year I feel the urge to announce this and wrap up the summer's events in a blog. So what can I say about the summer of 2012? Well, I can say that it has been somewhat of a more pleasant summer that many of recent past. This summer I had a lot more free time on my hands thanks to unemployment and that has been sort of a blessing considering how overworked I had become in the past 2 years.

I was partying just about every weekend this summer, taking advantage of the hot nights. In the spring me and some of the coworkers I had gotten along with started going out drinking every Friday night in the city and even to Brooklyn a few times. We had a lot of fun I must say, especially taking my friends to some of the hipster hangouts that I frequent. With my friends from outside of work, we did our share of partying, mainly on Saturday night. It is quite fun, I have to say, going out and living the party lifestyle, if only for the weekend. I do enjoy a fair share of the show-off factor in it, and by that I mean going out just to be seen at a cool place, or with cool people. Perhaps that's what summers in New York are for when you're still "young".

I did go camping a few weeks ago too as this has become an annual tradition. This time we had access to a car and drove deeper into the woods than we had gone before and explored some unchartered territory. We set up our tents and made a fire and we always do, and smoked weed and pigged out on our food. One of my friends was camping for the first time since he was a child and it was funny laughing at his inexperience and unique approach to many of its challenges. Like for one thing he bought all of his supplies at the super market right before we left which included a fresh pickle wrapped in plastic.

I started going to more groups this summer with some of the atheist groups I've joined. I met some decent people who are as passionate about atheism as me and it's always interesting to discuss relevant topics. I went to another Mets game for free as I did last year, and I also went to a free concert in Brooklyn to see Antibalas, an afro-cuban funk band that I like whose lyrics are anti-corporate greed.

With my free time I don't think that I have used it as wisely as I could have. I made a list of things to focus on while unemployed which included not to give into apathy, but I haven't always succeeded. Perhaps the time I spend slaving away at work is truly putting my time to good use since without it I might otherwise be wasting it on unproductive nonsense.

I did go on several bike rides that were to places that I had been many times. I think I should be going to explore neighborhoods that are not so no predictable. I hear Prospect Park is quite nice. I wouldn't mind going there while the weather is still conducive to such activity. I have to say that a part of me was wishing for fall-like weather, partly because of the fact that I bought some jackets for the fall that I am wishing to put to use. We had a few cooler than normal days recently and that wish has suddenly dried up when realizing what cooler temperatures actually feel like. I want summer like weather for at least a few more weeks.

So as summer 2012 comes to an end I am again very typically longing for it to last just a bit longer. Summer can never be too long in my book. I can say that I had my share of fun this year, even though most of it now resides in the hazy, inebriated memories of many weekend nights, carousing through the streets and bars of the city. Here's to summer!

Monday, August 30, 2010

Anthony's Nose

I just got back from camping upstate on a mountain called Anthony's Nose with my friend. It's about 900 feet high or so so it isn't technically a "mountain" (a mountain has to be 1000 ft high) but more like a hill. It sits across the Hudson river from Bear Mountain. As soon as I first saw it about 6 years ago I've always wanted to climb it, and this weekend I finally did. It's a nice little 30 minute or so hike to the top, and there are beautiful views of the Hudson Valley from some of the lookout points. It's so good to get out of the city to visit nature once in a while. I love the Hudson Valley and the Catskill mountain area. I feel this deep connection to the Northeastern part of the U.S. for some reason, and I'm really attached to the land here. It's probably because I was born in the Northeast.

Camping upstate has become an annual ritual for me. There is a bus that takes you from the Port Authority near Times Square to Bear Mountain State Park in a little over an hour. I love how on the return trip, you go from the wilderness to being left off right on 8th avenue in Midtown Manhattan, and experience such a dramatic change of environment.

Making a fire and sleeping outdoors is always a nice way to experience the way our ancestors lived for millennia, minus the packaged foods. The weather was perfect although a little chilly at night and a little too hot on Sunday. But either way we were blessed with fair weather, and clear skies that allowed us to see the stars that the city hides away. Although, Bear Mountain State Park, isn't far enough outside the city to see enough stars. At only 40 miles north of NYC, it sits at the edge of the NYC metropolitan area. Another 40 or 50 miles or so upstate is required to really see the stars.

I'd like to try camping in Autumn or even Winter one time. All I have to do is wait a few months and still want to go camping.


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