Changing Attitudes

Awareness, Appreciation, Action.  Somewhere in there, Attitude is also an issue.  I suppose our attitude springs from our appreciation or understanding of a situation.  Camping in a state or national campsite is an opportunity to observe different attitudes in action.  We like to camp in the middle of the week, after Labor Day, in remote areas without a lot of “recreational” amenities so that we can find quiet and wildlife.  Here’s where we were Tuesday night:

The entire campground was empty except for the host and two other rather large camping trailers occupying the handicapped spaces.  One of the sites had twinkly lights up and a dog, but they were very quiet.  We heard coyotes howling and cicadas thrumming quite loudly all night, which was just what we wanted to hear.  On Thursday, we were in the National Forest and had set up our tent at the end of the camping loop, quite alone.  When we came back from our day hike, the spot next to us was occupied.  Gear covered the picnic table.  It looked like a large group had left one car behind and gone off for the day.  We prepared our evening meal in quiet and enjoyed that.  They returned later, made a fire, and started preparing their dinner.  It was dark by this time, and Steve and I were setting out on our “night hike”.  We like taking a walk in the dark after dinner, no flashlight.  The campers next to us were equipped with head lamps, like miners.  They were also equipped with plenty of beer.  About 10 minutes before 10 o’clock, official quiet hours, they turned on their music.  We were just about to go to bed.  We decided to go over and talk to them.  We gently told one of them that we were disturbed by the noise they were making, that it was park policy to have quiet hours at 10pm, and that we would appreciate it if they would attempt to quiet down.  He thanked us for alerting them and went to speak to the group.  Back in our tent, the noise level seemed only minimally diminished.  The music was off, but the laughter erupted continually and carried down the canyon.  Steve eventually spoke to them again, his quiet, deep voice coming in underneath their raucous chatter.  They got a little quieter, and some of them soon turned in, after banging the latrine door and some garbage cans first.   At least one person stayed up all night long and kept the fire going.

We got up early and broke camp.  One woman from their party came over to apologize about the noise and said that she knew her voice and laughter could get out of hand.  We told her that we appreciated her coming over to apologize.  They were state college students who had been observing the snake migration, a tradition of sorts.  They were only staying one night.  Their reasons for being there were not the same as ours, but that wasn’t the conflict.  The conflict was in attitude.  What posture do you take in nature?  Is it a resource or playground for us to use as we wish?  Is it a sanctuary for us to tiptoe into reverently?  Those are only two examples, the possibilities are endless.  I was thinking of some articles I’d read recently on bullying.  I was thinking about Fred Rodgers and his two minutes of silence during an awards acceptance speech.   My mother sent me this news item today about a teacher who turned his front yard into a garden and promptly drew complaints from neighbors about the “nuisance”.

Attitude.  We are not all on the same page about any issue.  How do you communicate your attitudes?  How do you respect others’?  How do you invite people to change their attitude and allow some new experience?  I wonder if the college campers heard the owls and coyotes that were active that night.  I want to be gentle and kind and peaceful in my approach to changing attitudes.  I don’t want to get aggressive or give in to power plays.  I do want to promote awareness and appreciation and action.

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