There is an idea in Buddhism that says essentially, “the universe gives you everything you need.” So, if there is a lesson you need to learn – no problem, the universe has you covered and will present a situation for you to learn it.  If there is something you need to appreciate – not an issue, the universe will create an opportunity for you to feel appreciation.

This Buddhist concept popped into my head repeatedly during the three days I spent camping in the Ocala National Forest over the New Year.  While I very much enjoy camping, it also is really hard.  Every single thing you do takes so much longer – no easily accessible running water and only lantern light.  No matter what you try – no shoes in the tent – the dirt invades and there is no real keeping clean – immediately after you shower your three-year-old he trips over a tree stump and lands knees and palms into the ground.  Further, the woods possess some sort of magical power that makes my bladder perpetually full, endlessly unrelieved and no real restroom within 100 feet.

Throughout it all I was reminded, “Alexa, the universe is giving you everything you need, exactly as you need it, right now.”  It is possible that what I was meant to learn was obvious and I know it certainly wasn’t complicated, but somehow these simple truths never stick.

With everything taking so long and being so inconvenient I was forced to be patient.  There is no rushing through all that dishwashing by hand three times a day. Only focus and deep concentration got that job done.   No email to check, text to write, phone call to answer just me and soap-water-scrub-water- repeat.

Oh! and that dirt – it sure did force me to let go of any illusion of perfection, of our carefully packed belongings being orderly and the precious children being nice and tidy, well cared for. I was liberated from all that frantic, desperate, obsessive, grasping for control and order.  Finally, perhaps cliché, but there is nothing as glorious as a pristine night sky totally and fully uncorrupted by the suburban light pollution to which I have grown so accustomed as to render it unnoticeable.  You have to see the brightness of those stars first-hand, nothing but in-person bearing witness will do.  It will stir you and move you and fill you to the brink with gratitude for being alive. So, I must express my gratitude to the open air, portable toilet stationed outside our tent to which I made about 10 trips HOURLY.  Thank you, good ole’ ‘Luggable Loo.’

When I was young, my grandma found delight in wrapping paper.  She would ooh and aah over the vibrant colors and fold it away in a perfect square for later enjoyment. I didn’t understand.  I thought her making a fuss over paper silly.   Knowing the teenaged me, I rolled my eyes.  Yet, there I was at the dish washing station marveling at the delicate lace patterns the soap made on the side of the green camping cups – sometimes reminiscent of ocean spray, others unique like fingerprints, at times mimicking abstract cloud animals. The universe gave me that too – visiting hours with grandma’s ghost and the best superpower of them all, wonder over a small and easily overlooked miracle.  A pretty good survival skill in these days of more, more, more.

The universe gave me all these party favors at my New Year’s Eve celebration in the woods.  Thus, despite the obscene amount of gear crammed back into my mini-van, I returned to suburbia lighter, less burdened and more uplifted.

I had planned on writing my New Year’s musings well-before we departed for Alexander Springs. However, despite thinking and thinking I never came up with anything worth saying.  Eventually, I surrendered deciding, “There will be other new years and time for messages then.”  Yet, 7 hours, 5 minutes, and 10 seconds away from 2019 I found myself writing this note standing at my food storage container desk, my ankles bug bitten, my feet covered in campsite dust and the universe doing what it does best – providing me with exactly what I needed.  As I enter the new year, I hope I finally can remember this truth, but no matter, the universe will continue doing what it always has done for you and me both.


Cheers to a year filled with what you need!