By Deborah L. Huntley, Preservation Archaeologist
Field school student Megan Smith settles in to the rhythm of camp life:
I often feel that I have lost sight of what is really important in my life as I scramble to meet deadlines and constantly focus my views so narrowly on stressful and pointless details. Am I missing the bigger picture? I have to make a conscious effort to take a chance and venture into new surroundings to help myself remember to take a step back.
When I am home, people expect to be able to contact me at all times; there are no excuses for not picking up the phone or not responding to an e-mail. Since my arrival in Mule Creek, however, I feel as though I have fallen off the grid. And I couldn’t be happier.
At first, I felt slightly naked without cell phone reception, and I was concerned that someone might be trying to get a hold of me or something important might be happening. It was then, as I sat watching my phone search for a signal, that I realized how absorbed I had become in the unnecessary stresses that ran my life. Mule Creek had become not a death trap for phone calls, but an opportunity to be disconnected.
Entering the campsite was like starting anew; there were no phone calls to return or deadlines to stress about. All I needed to do was introduce myself into this new environment. I had to completely alter the way I interacted with the world, however, as I had never camped quite like this. I had never used a solar shower before, which became very obvious when I would leave the adobe shower house still dripping mud, or slept in a tent and needed to wear my winter jacket to stay warm.
But, in exchange, I am interacting with other disconnected people. We are around each other all the time, so I find myself surrounded by people who are also happy, tired, stressed, dirty, clean, and everything in between, and yet, our interactions are always genuine. I find that I am really listening while people talk to me, rather than focusing on everyday-stress-mind-clutter. I had completely lost sight of the importance of basic human interactions. I am so glad that I have had the chance to step back from my over-analyzed life. It may have taken a new environment, new living accommodations, new faces, and a new definition of hygiene, but all of these experiences have helped me broaden my perspective.