Monday, March 2, 2015

12. Sleeping Outside

There's an old joke that goes something like this:
Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson go on a camping trip. Sometime in the middle of the night, Holmes leans over and nudges Watson awake. "Watson," Holmes says, "Look up at the sky and tell me what you see."
"I see millions of stars," replies Watson.
"What does that tell you?"
After a moment of thoughtful pondering, Watson replies, "Well, astronomically it tells me there are millions of galaxies and possibly billions of planets. Astrologically I observe that Saturn is in Leo. Horologically, I deduce that the time is approximately quarter past three in the morning. Theologically, I can see that God is powerful and that we are small and insignificant. Meteorologically, I see that it will likely be a beautiful day today. What does it tell you?"
"Watson you idiot," Holmes exclaims, "Someone has stolen our tent!"
So the crux of this joke has something to do with inductive versus deductive logic, and about how we can (if you'll excuse the pun) sometimes miss the forest for the trees. But here's what I really want to know about this joke: Why the heck were Holmes and Watson CAMPING?! And WHERE?! I just have trouble imagining Sherlock Holmes in hiking boots somewhere in the wilderness for no reason at all. Second of all, what the heck kind of tent did they have where they didn't notice someone ripping it away from them? Was this thief some kind of incredible magician, yanking the nylon out from underneath the sleeping detectives like a tablecloth out from underneath a set of china? WHO IS THIS MAN?! WHY ARE THERE NOT NOVELLAS ABOUT HIM!?

Really, what this joke has taught us is that Holmes and Watson use a tarp tent, and they don't care about getting their backsides wet from damp ground. That, and that fact that there's a maniac gear junkie on the loose somewhere in the English Countryside, being completely unappreciated for his mad burgling skills.

If you go long distance hiking, there will be times that sleeping outside isn't fun. There will be the rainy nights, the snowy nights, and the nights where the wind blows so fiercely that you stay up for hours vividly imagining your tent and all of its contents (including your body) being whipped off the mountain and flung up into the atmosphere. There will be nights of 1,000,000 mosquitos, and nights of Whippoorwills waking you up at 2am to let you know that you're in their territory. Incessantly. But even if you put all these things together into one night of horror, that negativity wouldn't even come close to outweighing the absolutely zen peacefulness that comes from one good night sleeping outside.

If you've ever done any guided relaxation or meditation, you'll know that you're usually asked to imagine yourself laying in a field, or on a beach, or on a grassy hilltop surrounded by flowers. Usually you're not told to imagine yourself laying on the floor of a Home Depot, or on the futon in your college apartment. There's a reason that yogis want you to mentally and spiritually bring yourself outside, even if you're in a yoga studio. When you're given the opportunity to truly sleep outside, it has the potential to be one of the most relaxing, deepest sleeps you'll ever have.

The forest sleeps around you. There are no sounds of the city and no sounds of restless human meandering. A lot of us have bedrooms on the second floor, and even if your bedroom is on the first floor, there are at least a few feet of space and several layers of flooring and concrete and piping separating you from the actual ground. But when you sleep outside, that distance is obliterated.

Our bodies, our souls and our minds find a deep, indescribable peace from drifting into dreams with our hearts mere inches from the earth.

Clever Girl

1 comment:

  1. I originally heard that joke about Tonto and the Lone Ranger.