It's funny really, because we all like to think spending time with our friends and family is the most precious thing in the world. It's what we all strive for. It's what matters.
Yet finding time to do so almost feels impossible. Of course, we try. We rush around and do our best to make it work. We spin plates and juggle what we can to squeeze a coffee in here or squash a dinner in there; but it's always more of a fit-you-in catch-up, rather than a chance to enjoy quality time together and open up. What's more, we often feel guilty because we never seem to get around the carousel in time. And before we know it, more months have passed and phrases like 'we really shouldn't leave it so long next time' become genuinely less genuine; because, despite the authenticity, and with all good intentions, we simply do not have enough time.
So when we get that call to go and spend a birthday weekend camping in the woods, it is simply too good an opportunity to miss. After all, getting the opportunity to go away with friends and family - no distractions, no get out clauses, no 'I'm free for half an hour on Tuesday' - is simply worth too much. There's something about getting away that changes our pace. People are no longer in a hurry. Time slows down. And being together takes on a whole new meaning: to have a cup of tea, the water needs to be fetched; and so we fetch it together. To keep warm, we need to have a fire; so we collect the wood together. And of course, for dinner to be made, everything needs to be prepared; let's peel and chop it all together. Everything takes time. But nobody is in a rush. Everything takes effort. But it's all done in collaboration. And all of a sudden, we find ourselves working together, around each other, learning from each other in ways we rarely have time to explore. We learn and share how we move, how we think, how we create. And in this learning comes the deepening of our understanding for one another. Our relationships becomes enriched; friends become family; and family reaffirm their tribal solidarity. These are the moments we need. These are the moments we don't get enough of. These are the moments that get lost in the every day.
And as we leave, as we make our way back, as we take ourselves away from that which brought us together, we feel good about ourselves. Not only do we feel contented inside, but we feel more connected. We feel less alone, and more supported. We go back to our working weeks and busy lives knowing there are people out there who will listen to us, and with whom we can bond. We feel assured knowing that our problems shared are our problems halved. And that feeling takes us on. It lifts us up and carries us forward. It lets us face the world again, knowing our support networks are thriving. Knowing we're not alone. And for that we have no choice but to be thankful and inspired.
The challenge, then, is to find a way to make it continue. Not every day, as we all have our own lives to lead - and, of course, perhaps its rarity is part of what makes it special. But at least to make them more often. Because we need these moments. They help us. They make us stronger; they make us better. Being together brings us hope. And so somehow we need to find ways to build them into our everyday. To put aside the shopping for just one moment, and the gardening or the house cleaning. We need to put ourselves first more often. We need to find ways to make that call. Because that's what matters.