It’s summer. And I got what I wished for. Peace, quiet, warm days, cool nights, and Silence. Silence. Silence. Hardly even a bird chirping out here in Indianola, Washington, where stimulation comes from the inside out or it doesn’t come at all. The sounds of silence are everywhere. Broken only on occasion by music or memory. Then, out of the blue, I hear from someone with whom I went to summer camp over 50 years ago.
I have no idea who he is, or was, but we were in the same place at about the same time. And that means what? That we remember the same things? We don’t! That we shared the same experience? We didn’t. But it leads me to join a google group of others who also went to this camp. This strange place of good and evil, where I lived for eight weeks each summer from when I was seven to when I was seventeen.
What seemed good, inside and out, existed right alongside something rotten
A discourse evolves. What I discover is doubt and a wrinkly thread of closed mindedness. People don’t want to hear anything negative about a time in life that they recall as idyllic. They don’t like it when the layers are peeled back to reveal worms that ate away at the apple at the same time they were biting into it, discovering that what seemed good, both inside and out, existed right alongside something rotten.Who can blame them?
One person comments on my experience of disciplinary overkill and verbal abuse by saying “Hmmmm. . .” But Hmmmm smacks of disbelief and questions the validity of someone else’s (in this case my own) experience.
Best to keep an open mind
Think about it and see where that leads. When another’s experience doesn’t jibe with our own, best to keep an open mind. To listen without judgment. To suspend the Hmmms and dispense with the self righteousness. While one person remembers warmth and camaraderie, another recalls getting smacked on the rear with a hairbrush and left alone in the woods. Many recall both good and bad. But it’s the dark and hate-filled words, that burn holes in my consciousness and resist forgetting and forgiving. Though not directed solely at me, I felt every one of them. At thirteen your memory is good and your sense of justice remains uncompromised.
Many years later, I meet up with an old camp friend at a tennis club at Candlewood lake. As we sit at a table by the clubhouse, we recall those troubling days of yore while people gather round and ask if this is fiction or fact. No one knows whether to laugh or cry. This woman and I haven’t seen each other for almost twenty years. We have a lot to say.
English was a second language
My first year at camp was 1944. War time. Most of the kids came from refugee families. English was a second language. There was a dual allegiance to the country left behind, and the country they fled to, a split personality. For some, physical discipline was an acceptable child rearing tactic. But not in my home, nor in the homes of my friends. Our parents accused us of having big imaginations. Since they wouldn’t do this they thought others wouldn’t either. That’s how naive they were.
A real and present danger
As I read the commentary of “Hmmm’s,” the disbelief bubbles to the surface, And I realize once again, how discounting other people’s experience is the seed/core of a world in discord. A world out of harmony — tone deaf and in need of re-tuning. A real and present danger for all of us.
For those who would like to open and attune themselves to the wholeness of life’s experience, including the parts with which we’re not familiar, here’s an imagery exercise to serve that intention.
Close your eyes, breathe out, and See yourself as a radio tuning your antennae to the wisdom of the universe. Know you are receiving vital information directly off the airwaves from a station that’s broadcasting the truth. All of it.
Listen carefully. Then respond without question, or trying to figure it out. See what happens and how you feel. Then open your eyes and return.