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  • Writer's pictureMarty Jalove

Campsites and Conversations

It has been over 35 years since I lost my dad. And even though they never met, my 21-year-old son tells wonderful stories about his grandfather.

My brothers, our nephews, and our sons partake upon incredible adventures every year in my father’s memory. This tradition has been going on since the mid 80s. It started with hiking, fishing, camping, horseback riding, and more. Now it’s usually, shopping, eating, and sitting around. But it is also always about reminiscing, laughing, and sharing stories.

One year, we weekend warriors camped and canoed the Canadian Boundary Waters. The air was clean, the water pristine, and at night, the sky was clear. Without the overwhelming abundance of artificial light, we could see thousands and thousands of stars. That magnificent view was disturbed and distorted only momentarily by the billowing smoke of our campfire. It’s funny how a single spark can change our view.

We were warned about drinking the water right from the river. We were told to boil it first to be sure that it was clean and pure. To make sure that it wasn’t polluted or affected by the others and the elements upstream. But that didn’t stop me from scooping and sharing a cup or two as we paddled in the hot sun.

Our responsibility was to ensure that nature’s message was not contaminated or tainted in any way. To keep it honest and as close to original as possible. We may never know what happens before us, but we have control over how we affect what we receive and pass on.

When we boys get together, we share memories of these escapades. Over the years, the recalling of these adventure probably twist and turn into something slightly different. I believe something better. Stories based on the truth but without the bad recollections, only the good. The stories of our adventures get exaggerate over time. The truth transforms for amusement’s sake; to create laughter, never to harm or to hurt.

If I thought about what could have been dropped in or added to that water upstream, I probably wouldn’t have drunk it so carefreely. Or shared it with the others. It can be unknowingly awful to drink the water downstream. But is it worse to be the one that pollutes it upstream?

Stories about my father and the many journeys that we men have had over the years are one thing. But what about the conversations and gossip that we hear and share daily? Do we always repeat stories accurately? Or are they tainted and twisted to support a point or feeling that we want our listeners to experience?

What do you hope and expect from the people upstream in the conversations that you anxiously anticipate repeating? And what version of the many stories that we hear will you share? What will you give to the people downstream?

My father once said, “Leave your campsite and your conversations better than when you got there.” Or maybe he didn’t say that, but that’s the version of his story that I’ve chosen to share today.

As seen in Stroll, Hawthorn Woods CC Magazine. Follow “Bacon Bits with Master Happiness” on Apple Podcast, Spotify, Google Podcast, Amazon Music, Audible, or wherever you listen to your favorite podcasts.

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