…underneath the approach pattern of a 737.
A couple weekends ago, Laura and I decided to go camping to enjoy a little nature. There is no better month in Texas than October, and no better way to celebrate the departure of summer than with a campfire at night and a hiking trail in the morning.
Unfortunately, by the time we had our Friday afternoons wrapped up and got the car ready to go, it was already 6:30. We just wanted to get in to camping mode as quickly as possible, so we set off for a camping area at nearby Grapevine Lake. By nearby I mean seven miles from our front door. From some front doors, seven miles away could officially qualify as honest-to-goodness wilderness or at the very least be enough to escape the buzz of the highway. But, when your front door is somewhere in DFW, it turns out that seven miles doesn’t do much for you in terms of escaping.
We had settled in to our “campsite” by 7:30 and as I got a potentially-illegal fire going (we thought we remembered seeing a burn ban sign on the way in, but banked on our ability to effectively play dumb) Laura started working on dinner. My baby can cook some campfire beans, I’ll tell ya what. We put our veggie dogs together, grabbed a handful of Doritos and settled in to the sweet, soft sound of a crackling campfire…and a classic rock band playing to a packed house of 17 at the nearby marina. By nearby I mean a quarter of a mile from our tent. One might think that an uninspired cover of Dwight Yoakum’s “Fast As You” mingling in with your campfire sounds might be discouraging, but it ended up turning in to “Campfire Name That Tune”.
At about 9:45, the song was “Margaritaville”. Friday night at 9:45. At all the smoky bars and wedding receptions across America (or, if you prefer President Bush’s pronounciation, Merca), how many times do you think that song was being played at that exact moment? I’m saying at least 1,000 and I’ll tell you why.
I think that over the course of a Friday night from seven o’clock to midnight it gets played 75,000 different times. That’s 15,000 times an hour which means that if the song is about 4 minutes long, at any given minute within that hour it is being played in 1,000 different locations. Agree? Disagree?
After a while, the band packed it in and we were left again with naught but the sound of crickets and our still crackling fire. Then, the 737s. *Ssshhhhcccwoooooosh* I suppose we could’ve turned that in to “Name That Departure City”, but there’s no way of knowing the truth so what’s the point in that, eh? Instead, it made us stop and think about the idea of “getting away”. Sure it’s great (and probably better) to escape to a place that doesn’t come close to resembling Home. You don’t recognize the exit signs, there are restaurants you’ve never heard of along the way and maybe even the accents are different enough to be charming. You travel a good distance and along the way you forget what a weekday feels like. As Wendell Berry would say, your tasks lie in their places where you left them
asleep like cattle.
But I was reminded of something on a hasty trip to the car to get a blanket or a lamp or maybe it was a can of propane. I found myself walking as quickly as I could, in such an awful hurry to return to my seat by the fire…in such a hurry to return to relaxing. I caught myself and said, “Hey. Slow it down, there’s no rush.” And then overhead, the 737. But it didn’t phase me. It didn’t scream, “Ha ha! You’re still in the city, sucker!” Instead, it seemed to say, “You control the pace. Even here, camping next door to the third busiest airport in the world and across the lake from a 476-room hotel, you can decide if you’re going to rush or walk slowly.”