When You Look at It That Way

Have you ever thought about the inclination of people to keep mementos? I recently bought a mug from a small, rustic campground store as a souvenir of an epic trip. The store proprietor (who also managed the campground) watched me peruse the items for sale with a patient but ‘oh brother’ look on his face. I imagined him saying to himself, “people love to waste their money”.
The mug I picked out is a good size, not too big, not too small. The handle is sturdy and comfortable to grasp. The lip is thick and the color speaks classic ‘camp’, not to mention that it includes the name of the campground. Not a bad purchase just at face value.
But why did I buy it? I truly do not need another mug. I do drink coffee or tea every day and I don’t like to be repetitive about anything so there’s that. However, the real reason I added this mug to my collection is because when I look at it, I see a story.
I see a huge campsite with no neighbors within speaking distance. I see two people escaping a truck after seven hours of tense, quiet, traveling. One person clearly not liking the uncertainty of the destination, sight unseen, with rain following them every mile. The other wavering between keeping a positive spin and jettisoning the naysayer out the window if it were possible. I see two people getting the work done of setting up and making a temporary home, with moments of harmony and minutes of utter discord. It all felt so hard at the time, but the story reflected on and told over, has distilled into something sweet. How despite the disappointments and weariness of two people who really did not want to be near each other, overcame, rested in the beauty and peace of their surroundings and got over the natural frictions of a conflict of perspective.

When I look at the mug, I don’t see $10 wasted. I see victory, resilience, a time that was endured and should never be forgotten.

Remember your stories. Strung together, they are what makes a life full.


One of our stops was at Max V. Shaul campground in New York. It is a great, small campground in the woods. Campsites are far apart. The bathhouse is modern with tiled walls and new fixtures. Be warned, though the website doesn’t call it out, there is no electric service at campsites.

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