Month of Written Devotion 11 : Happiness

Please bear with me as I am writing this post while very jetlagged. Since this series is dedicated to Kuan Yin, I wanted to find the link between happiness and compassion. I found this to be a most amazing description:

From my own limited experience I have found that the greatest degree of inner tranquility comes from the development of love and compassion.

The more we care for the happiness of others, the greater our own sense of well-being becomes. Cultivating a close, warm-hearted feeling for others automatically puts the mind at ease. This helps remove whatever fears or insecurities we may have and gives us the strength to cope with any obstacles we encounter. It is the ultimate source of success in life.

– Tenzin Gyatso; The Fourteenth Dalai Lama

My medieval camping vacation was filled the kind of happiness the Dalai Lama describes. We are a small community made up of about 20 people in our encampment we call “La Familia Gladiatoria” – Gladiator Family. There are also about 40-50 others who are our immediate neighbors in ‘sister’ camps. (The total number of people at the event is about 10,000.)

We create a home away from home for two weeks, using our unique strengths and abilities to help each other have a great time. In no particular order, these are some of the ways we build it:

Sharing our camp’s shower with hot running water. Borrowing our neighbor’s tools. Moving heavy things. Pitching tents. Borrowing our neighbors’ oven to bake gluten-free desserts. Building a temple (see photo below). Organizing the kitchen. Celebrating love with a handfasting. Throwing a dessert party and inviting lots of people. Sewing camp walls and costumes. Cooking meals. Breaking bread and sharing drink with each other. Making music. Writing postcards to friends who couldn’t be there. Taking turns doing the dishes. Going grocery shopping. Putting on armor and fighting together. Sitting around a campfire telling stories. Helping mend each other’s wounds and ailments. Taking out the garbage. Doing laundry. Filling tiki torches. Teaching classes. Giving people rides to the airport. Holding space for each other on difficult days. Laughing together. Saying thank you. Spending time with friends we may only get to see once a year.

Some of these are not unique to camping. Some of them are things we also do in every day life. In camp, we do them willingly to make each person’s load a little lighter so we can all enjoy our time off. For two weeks a year, we don’t just go to our summer home – we make it. And then we break it all down and put it into storage until the next year.

We could always spend our summer vacation a hotel that someone else built. Instead we choose to make our home with hard work, happiness, love, and compassion.

Pennsic temple at sunrise

This is part of our summer home on the lake. What you see is a temple to Athena-Nike – a temple of Love and Victory. Below the stairs is our pantry, kitchen and bath area.

Note: This series was inspired by the Month of Written Devotion idea. If you want to participate, go there for the list of daily prompts.

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