I recently went on a camping vacation with my family in Western Tennessee. This part of the state is a bit different than where the Smokey Mountains are, which is more towards the east. During my trips away I turn my phone off for a few days. By disconnecting I am able to create space in my mind again.
We stayed at Chickasaw State Park. It’s smack-dab in the middle of a Forrest surrounded by tall trees. Ivy grows up in the bare spots where the bark of the tree is normally visible. All you can see for miles are tall trees and ivy growing up, untouched. Being in places like this brings a sense of wonder.
Wonder is a bit different than imagination. The imagination can be creative and redraw things and move mountains, but it can never see the beauty of what’s right in front of us at the moment. For me, that’s “wonder.” Wonder can simply see what’s there without even wanting anything to change, and if you do it well enough, whatever it is you are observing speaks to you, and then the imagination can really flourish.
Across from the campsite grounds, we stayed was a small building. I can’t give you an estimate of the exact size, but the story on that space was that it was the original camp store. Sometime in the past they built a new one and abandon this one. Of course, why not put some old exercise equipment in there and turn it into a gym.
I was drawn to it! I spent just about every day in there for up to an hour. It was quiet and I was by myself each time. It reminded me of times when I was an adolescent learning how to lift weights in my uncle’s garage. Coincidentally, his garage was quite small as well. It’s ironic how these things tie together.
I thought about a lot as I worked out. How far I’ve come in my life. How much I’ve grown. How much has changed around me without even knowing? All that is necessary for the integrity of our lives. We need to be retrospective. It makes you better.
Anyhow, I stayed in a state of wonder for much of the trip, and enjoyed all of the traditional campsite activities. It carried with me on the drive back home and even as I drove along Old US 35 into Washington Court House. With that wonder, I saw our town. I felt at home and it was really beautiful. It was safe.
I looked at all of the trees on the streets that were full of green and the downtown buildings that are bringing in new ideas and energy. Perhaps I’m romanticizing this a bit much, but well, that’s what happens when you love something. In particular, our community for what it is, has been, and will be.
New things are on the horizon. Something in our area has arrived and is here. That’s a bold statement to make. One could say we’re on the cusp, but oh so often we get close and lose out on what we’re pursuing. You have to be bold. There has to be that risk to go for it. It’s the right thing to do, even you don’t get it. I think we all have a good future, as long as we keep that sense of wonder alive, together.
Trey Tompkins is a local fitness expert who writes columns for the Record-Herald.