In college we were required to take two PE classes for some reason. One of the classes offered was a three-day camping trip in the Maryland wilderness. It seemed like the least-painful option, so I signed up.
It was miserable. For three days I slept in a tent with strangers, ate crappy food, and participated in “trust-building group exercises” (just typing that out made me very sad).
I didn’t understand why I needed to earn the trust of strangers and have them earn my trust in turn, but I went along with it anyway in the most half-hearted way possible. I was present. I had a pulse. I blinked sometimes. That seemed good enough.
On the first day, one of the counsellors asked us to walk on a tightrope that was strung up along a row of trees. The rope was maybe two inches off the ground. Our teammates were supposed to hover around us as we walked it— to catch us if we fell. After an hour or so of this bullshit (and me being the only person who obviously wasn’t drinking the Kool-Aid), the counsellor asked us to go off in the woods nearby and think about what friendship meant. She said, “Meditate on what you have learned.” I walked until I was out of sight, climbed a tree, and stared at the sun for ten minutes.
Later, the counsellors had us gather around them in a circle to play some sort of dumbass game. I wasn’t having it. I can’t remember why— maybe so we would get to know each other— some asshole with a bad haircut went around the circle asking us what our favorite thing was. I thought, what the hell is this? ‘The Sound of Music’?
Eventually he got to me. He pointed a finger at me and, with a smile typically employed by kindergarten teachers, said, “What’s your favorite thing, friend?”
I said, “I don’t like anything.”
He laughed. “There’s always one in every group. But seriously— what’s your favorite thing?”
“I don’t like anything.”
He quickly moved on to the next person, who said their favorite thing was “Goldeneye for the Nintendo 64” while I pictured that great countdown in my head, knowing I would have to endure another forty-eight hours of horse shit in order to get a degree that I have, all these years later, had absolutely no use for.