From as far back as I can remember having my own ideas about things- three or so I suppose, I was an odd little girl. Even though I was energetic and athletic, I had plenty of friends, I had a big family, and I certainly loved to spew my opinions- I truly cherished the quiet times most. I preferred calm and sedentary over noisy parties and mayhem. I would rather read a book than almost anything. This being said, when I think about my idea of what peace means to me and admittedly I am at once flooded with great philosophical quotes and parables, it is my sixteenth birthday camping trip that comes to mind.
Like many teenagers I was experiencing an onslaught of adolescent angst and rebellion. Mom was in her second year of sobriety and we were inadvertently testing each other’s boundaries. Rarely a day went by when we were not fighting about something. When my older brother Tom and his wife decided to go camping for a week the same time as my birthday, I asked to tag along. Summer camping and waterskiing was a regular event for us and I was looking forward to getting away from home and my mom and little sister. I packed my supply of Stephen King horror novels; The Shining was just out in paperback- and I hit the road to canvas tents and warm lake water.
About three days in, mom drives up to our campsite, unexpectedly. My little sister had been offered a weekend jaunt with a neighbor family so mom decided to be spontaneous and barge in on my space. I immediately decided that I was going to show my tail feathers and ignore her intrusion. Then, an alien landed in my sleeping bag.
It was really hot and mom did not want to sleep in a tent. I was already sleeping outside on a cot but when mom took her sleeping bag and strolled down near the lake, under the full moon, I followed.
At first, we just laid there, staring up at the dark sky and all the bright stars. Each of us respecting the other’s moment. Then mom began a monologue about little green men and how the only way she felt she would ever be able to find a “man” again- this late in life was if they dropped out of a silver-spinning flying saucer. I can’t even begin to do justice to mom’s spiel- or to relay the graphic detail mom put into her hysterical tale of unearthly romantic dating possibilities but my stomach hurt so much from laughing; my eyes were blurred with tears and my brother and his wife, known for being the noisiest pair in our family- actually shouted from their tent that we needed to “be quiet”. It felt like mom and I were gasping through giggles for hours. It was the most peace I had ever known.
My relationship with my mom began to change and even though there would be years to come where conflict and latent issues would rise again, that moment, lying under the stars and laughing with my mom was such a cleansing that it gave me strength to see my way through anything that presented a challenge in the future.
Some people find a rock to meditate or a beach to do yoga or a soft pillow to drown out the noise- and thus begin their search for philosophical peace. I remember a simple time shared with my best friend, when aliens showed mom and me about true peace on Earth.