Some of my favorite memories are of the days I spent at Camp Huawni. The time spent there represents the most carefree experiences of my life—non-stop activities from sun-up to sundown, and nights filled with talent shows, truck rides where we hunted down the Wild Woman, or sing-songs down by the pool underneath a starry Texas sky. Camp was exhausting and exhilarating and I was at full throttle from the time I was dropped off until the day my parents picked me up two weeks later.
I loved the interaction with the other campers and all the outdoor activities, but many of my best moments came during “rest period.” After lunch, we all reported to our cabins and had two to three hours to relax, recuperate, and re-energize before we were fast and furiously back at it again.
I loved the stillness of this time. Our counselors weren’t sticklers about making us sleep, but they did encourage us to lie down on our bunk, and at least try to get some rest. We read the letters we received from home, and sometimes took the time to respond. If a “care package” came for a cabin mate, we all “oohed, and aahed” over it, hoping we might get to share in the bounty.
Since the cabins weren’t air conditioned, the windows remained open, and as the fans breathed air into us, we learned about ourselves. These quiet and laughter-laced conversations, muffled by the hum of the fans, caught flight in the breeze and the stories of young girls and their hopes and dreams and lessons on life, landed all over the grounds of camp.
Although we weren’t aware at the time, these simple moments began shaping us into who we were. Without knowing it, we were learning about and experiencing and building on the deeper tenets of life: love, freedom, friendship, acceptance, beauty in nature, and inner peace.
As John Denver sang, we talked of
“poems and prayers and promises
And things that we believe in.
How sweet it is to love someone,
How right it is to care.
How long it’s been since yesterday,
What about tomorrow?
What about our dreams
And all the memories we share?”
We just didn’t know that’s what we were doing at the time…
In an otherwise free, democratic organization, there was one unwritten rule among the campers at Camp Huawni, issued from Cabin 7 East and West (one long cabin where the oldest campers lodged for 14 days). The exact time and date this edict was issued is unknown but I’m fairly certain it must have been in the same year the camp was founded. It wasn’t a fancy article from a bill of rights, or a declaration of independence. It was simple as pie, and the rule thrust upon us by the older, much cooler, and definitely more developed girls of Cabin 7 East and West was this:
Everyone’s radio was to be dialed in on the same station.
For the life of me, I can’t remember the call numbers, but it seemed like it might have been KEEL 107 out of Shreveport—-the station where most every teenager in the Ark-La-Tex spent Sunday afternoons listening to Casey Kasem and the Top 40 Countdown, and Sunday nights staying up past our bedtimes so that we might hear a few moments of the Christian radio program “Powerline.”
I never thought the radio rule was bossy or unreasonable. This idea of unity and one song playing at a time seemed to make sense. It would have been utter chaos to have it any other way.
Over the years, some of my favorite songs from Camp Huawni rest periods were by Seals and Crofts, Earth Wind and Fire, The Doobie Brothers, Three Dog Night, and Jim Croce.
One song seems to stand out, though—“[I’ve Been] Searchin’ So Long.” I’ve always been a fan of the band, Chicago. There’s something so special about their harmony, and the way they blend together like hot butter and pancake syrup. Such a sweet sound that sticks with you. And just when you think you couldn’t love a song more, the trumpet shows up and makes it even more perfect, and different, and rare.
The words of “[I’ve Been] Searchin’ So Long,” always resonated deep within me, as the music and lyrics danced across camp, like a summer breeze, when it was as still and as quiet as any place on earth.
“I’ve been searching
To find and answer…”
These words haunted me as a young girl, foreshadowing my future as an over-thinker, constantly searching for answers, and ideas, and meaning. To have this song tied to such an innocent, peaceful, and untouched memory of hot, still, lazy, summer days filled with sweet friendships and simple times makes me humble.
If there were such a thing as the “Over-thinkers’ Club,” I would be president. In fact, I would be the founder, CEO, and the secretary/treasurer. And the VP, in case the president was unable to be there!
We would meet in a room where there would be perfect lighting, and music playing in the background, and a variety of beverages and snacks, and soft cushiony chairs, or sofas. Possibly even bean bags. Well, I don’t know about the bean bags—they are comfy, but for some, it might be too difficult to get up. I’m not saying that because I think that over-thinker people are old or overweight. Over-thinkers come in all shapes and sizes and ages. I wonder if we should divide the group by age? Would individuals get more out of it that way? Or should we learn from others who are younger/older? Speaking of young, I love that song “Forever Young,” by Rod Stewart. You know his ex-wife actually lived in Nacogdoches for a time. Oh, wow! Look at the time! But, “Does anybody really know what time it is? That’s such a great song by Chicago…
WELCOME to my WORLD. And that’s just a tiny preview into my mind and over-thinking.
I’ve always looked at the BIG picture. From a very young age, I have combined books, and music, and experiences with historical time periods. And in my own life, I’ve always had a soundtrack playing in the background, making sense of situations, or skewing them in my favor, with an ending or outcome that I wanted, that might not be real, but I liked better.
And all of these things, and ideas, and songs, and memories, and current events, and every day life, have been stored in my brain, to be recycled in my writing.
I always knew my mind seemed to work differently than most people’s. I’m not saying that in a haughty or conceited way. I’m definitely not trying to be “stuck up” (those who grew up in the 1970s/1980s might chuckle at that phrase). I mean it in the opposite manner. Sometimes my mind is my greatest enemy. It’s a force within me that I can’t always control. I over-analyze, re-think, question, and worry endlessly. At times, I just want to shut it off. If only there was a switch for that. But ironically, the key to changing how you think, is to learn to think about things differently. So therein lies my dilemma. I still have to think. I just have to learn to do it differently.
And that’s why I write. For those of you who faithfully read my musings, thank you. At times, I feel as if I hold you hostage with my endless insights, questions, and combinations of unlike topics, blending into something that hopefully makes sense.
But, I’m struggling now. Seriously struggling with where I need to go with my words. I have discovered, I have to write. Not because I love it, but because it is the way I soothe my soul. It is the way I make sense of things I don’t understand. The things that life dishes out without our consent.
So, do I write about things that matter only to me? Or do I try to write about things that benefit “the greater good”—to benefit more people than myself? As the definition says, “that which is better or more correct.” How does one decide those things—what is better, and what is more correct?
I believe I will honestly try to continue the blog, simply because it keeps me accountable. I am required by my boss (me) to write something weekly. I don’t always feel like it, and at times, it shows. But, because I’m not a quitter, I keep doing it, and usually at the end of my ramblings, I’ve learned something new about myself, or a new way of thinking about something.
The struggle itself lies in feeling that I have “unfinished business.” I need to write the ending to A Southern Girl Re-Belles. In my mind, I know how it ends, so maybe that’s enough. Or is it? Would that be unfair to the people who did read it? Those who have sent me comments about what they think will happen, or texts about who should play the characters’ roles in the movie. And maybe I should just write a synopsis of what would happen and distribute it to those who might be interested. Whenever I peruse my “work” closet and see boxes, and boxes of unsold books, the latter seems like the obvious answer.
So there’s my quandary. Do I do it for myself, or for others? Is there even a greater good in any of this? Or am I being “stuck up” in thinking that anyone cares. And should they really care about my book? And is this really about a book, or is it a metaphor? Or a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma?
You see, as I get older I seem to ask myself before I do something, “Is it good? Is it just? Will it benefit others? Will it help someone? Is it kind?”
Please don’t think that I view myself as saintly or that I’m trying to portray myself in that way. I’m not. I don’t always make the right choices, and I have done things that have benefited myself more than others. At times, it’s difficult to know where that line or boundary is. If one is truly trying to be selfless, does that mean giving up hopes, and dreams, and aspirations?
(Some of you are probably ready to jump off “Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride.” Relax. I’m about to wrap this up).
The question I have wondered about, and thought, and re-thought, and over-thought is will writing a sequel and giving closure to the story make life better for anyone, or is it a selfish act, where I’m seeking attention, or acclaim? That, my friends, is the answer I’m searching for. The meaning I’ve wanted to understand my entire life.
Am I supposed to do big things, or little things in big ways?
I remember in 1992, at the end of the year, my GT English class put together a “Video Yearbook.” Remember, this was at a time when technology wasn’t even close to being what it is today. We used a video camera, connected it to a VCR, and transferred video and photos into a remembrance of that school year. Then we added music. And I had not a clue how to do any of this.
There were only three of us, and all I remember is my relentless need to get this done. It was hard. And it was exhausting. And it took forever. And I know I was a drill sergeant, demanding perfection. In the end, we finished and shared our product over the TVs in each classroom. And it was a hit.
During the same time the class worked on this project, I was working at home on one for my history classes. An end-of-the-year recap. I found film footage from historical events and photos, and put it all to music. I remember including songs like “Everybody Wants to Rule the World,” “Abraham, Martin, and John,” and U2’s “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For.” And it all ended with “The Dance.” I was so very proud of this video because it was a visual representation of our school year. My students loved it.
It was close to the end of May and I had just discovered I was pregnant. My husband Brian had gone to the state track meet, so Christopher and I drove to my parents’ house for the weekend. I took the video along, because I knew my parents would love it. Or that’s what I thought.
While they appreciated the video footage, the music was foreign to them. After being a captive audience for over thirty minutes, they seemed relieved when it ended. Their response was, “That was good.” And then we discussed where we were going to eat supper…
And I was crushed. I didn’t understand.
But now I do.
We all think differently, and process things differently. Our view on specific situations is based on our own personal perspective and experiences.
Not everyone will understand why you dance. Not everyone will hear the music. And not everyone will think you’re insane for doing what you were meant to do.
And in more earth-shattering news: Just like there wasn’t actually a Wild Woman who roamed around Camp Huawni, there wasn’t really an Edict About Radio Usage.
It’s something we understood. It’s meaning was implied. Because we wanted to grow up and be like those older girls. We longed to dance. We longed to hear the music. We longed to be normal.
And in the end, that’s what it’s all about. Finding out who we are.
We each have to venture out on our own journey. And along the way we have to figure out and accept who we are and learn to embrace that person.
Some find happiness earlier than others. Some change the world in ways that are less exhausting than others. And some simply make the world a brighter place just by being a part of it. But no matter who we become or the road we choose, we must own it. We must never blame others for where we are, because the choices have been our own.
I came across this statement the other day, “Actions prove who someone is. Words just prove who they want to be.”
Thanks a lot, random thought. It looks like I have some decisions to make…
As I continue my walk through these unsure times, I know I’m not alone. I know there is a plan for me as promised in Jeremiah 29:11. I have to rely on faith, and listen to God as He quietly whispers to me, as the breeze takes His words and the answers to my hopes and dreams, and the reasons for the lessons I’ve learned, and scatters them all around me.
And in all the answers He provides, I will discover the difference between selfish desires, and that which is for the greater good, understanding that feeling pain and giving up dreams might be a part of that which is greater.
But in it all, no matter the outcome, I will find hope and happiness, knowing that as this abundance of confetti pours down over and around me like manna from heaven, I will dance.
And in the end, if this writing stuff doesn’t pan out, there’s always the guitar. I’ve always wanted to learn to play the guitar. And my dear friend, Johna, just got a ukulele. Maybe we could start a band! And we could play for you. Gosh, I LOVE that song, “I’ll Play for You,” by Seals and Crofts. Their harmony is unmatched…(thus the over-thinking begins again).
Jesus, take the wheel…