“I Can Do Anything!”

I’m going camping! In a tent! A small tent for just two people!

Will I be able to help put the tent up? No, I need both my hands to hold my crutches and stand up on uneven ground. But I will be able to help blow up the airbed. 🙂

Will I be comfortable? Heck no! But I’ll be able to crawl in and out the tent on my hands and knees. In fact, like any other camper I’ll spend most of my time on my knees, squatting, sitting, lying down. If it’s sunny I’ll be able to crawl out of the tent and lie down in the sun to read my book. If it’s wet, I’ll be able to lie down in the tent and read my book.

Across the road is a long, long , long beach. I’ll need help to walk on the soft sand to get to firmer sand, then I’ll be able to paddle in the shallows, until a tiny wave takes my crutches out from underneath me!

At 2am I may need help to get to the ablution block. That’s a small price to pay – I’ll see the moon and the stars on a cloudless night, and I’ll see the dew sparkling on the grass, smell the fresh smells that you can only smell at night when you’re camping. I’ll hear the waves roaring in the quiet of the night.

And I’ll enjoy every moment that I struggle with my crutches on the sand, round the camp ground, and getting from my knees to standing beside the tent. For once I won’t mind asking for help, compromising my independence.  Because I don’t know which year will be the last year I am sufficiently mobile to sleep in a tent.

The only sad moments will be those times when looking at our tent I’m reminded that people in Christchurch are sleeping in tents, not because it’s fun and they choose to, but because they have nowhere else to sleep. It’s like we’re living in two worlds. The world where we can flush the toilet, go to work, walk down Lambton Quay, grab something to eat from a cafe, and know that we’re going back to a home that’s intact with food and water and a warm bed. Then there’s this other world not far away where we have friends and family and where the stories are horrific and surreal. And it should have been Wellington that’s been shaken to bits.

Still, guilt aside, since damaging my spinal cord I’ve learnt that the greatest pleasures are the simple ones. Living in our simple little tent without luxuries or amenities, sharing a communal kitchen, brushing our teeth in front of strangers and chatting to  people from all over the world  is a pleasure that I’ll enjoy for a few days each year for as long as I possibly can.


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