When the CEO of REI Jerry Stritzke announced his closing of all stores for Black Friday in honor of bringing more people to #optoutside and connect with the outside world and nature, rather then camping outside a department store for hours to get a new gadget or "something" a few bucks in discount is the beginning of a revolution. A sought out idea to shift our world to disconnect and reconnect with the true value of what life is.
I decided to #optoutside after a ruthless week of "routine". As Paulo Coelho quotes "if you think adventure is dangerous, try routine, it is lethal". Those words resonate with me so much. As a society we are taught to function with routine, schedule and time. Time? What is that? Ekhart Tolle quotes "people don't realize that now is all there ever is, there is no past or future except as memory or anticipation in your mind". We need to become more aware of our body and mind and it seems to almost take more effort to bring mindfulness into practice then just going on with our everyday life as structured. I admit I have a love/hate relationship with the social media, for as I have been able to connect with people from all around the world, that I may never have had an opportunity too, it also
can drive us to be so consumed on checking peoples status, pictures etc. I mean everywhere you go, you see people on their phone, in the elevator, bus stop, in line at Starbucks. We do not realize it, but it becomes a habitual act, and in turn we are missing out in the now. The now for us is being consumed by somebody else's now. I truly begin to have physiological changes, which are my red flags that I am becoming disconnected with the self, it almost feels as though I am being suffocated and begin to feel stagnant.
I packed my day pack and headed up to Cleveland National Forest to hike a segment of the Pacific Crest Trail and get lost on the trails alone. Yes, alone. No I am not crazy, no I am not afraid. People usually seem to ask why alone? don't you get scared? I can never do that?
That hesitation and fear is the fear of self. We live in a codependent world, where if someone were to go to the beach, movies, or travel alone a good percentage of the world would stamp a logo on you as "loner". Just to clarify you know there is a difference in the word alone and lonely? Right? You can google that in your spare time. It is that alone time people get so into their head that they fear what may be of it, but on the contrary giving yourself that alone time you tap into a deeper you, which in time reveals your true identity.
As soon as I set foot on the trail the mind wandered with 20 million voices (well basically my own voice) fidgeting restless. "Are you on the right trail" "its hot should I take off my shirt" "you forgot sunscreen", I think your shoelaces need to be re-tied", I mean it was an excessive amount of chatter in my head, almost like my mind was trying to find an excuse to turn around and end the hike. I finally began to take notice of my steps and my inhales/exhales to help quite my mind, observing every rock on the dirt path, hearing the crushing of the dried leaves as they crackled underneath my boot, the whips of fresh air that would brush lightly on my skin, the warmth of the sun. These were mindful acts to bring myself to the here, the now, the present moment. Glimpses of my past would flow in and out of my mind, or thoughts of what I would do later after the hike or tomorrow would try and break my now. Its mind boggling to know how much effort it takes to be in the present, yet so easy to rely on the past or look toward the future, yet the here the now, what we can see, feel, and hear is so hard to grip. Once I cultivated my mind to be here, observing my surroundings, I was amazed on how much was around me, I unveiled a sense of peace and tranquility within myself. I felt light and free as I walked this endless single track with no one in sight, perhaps a lizard or two that crossed my path. I felt so small in this massive meadow field, I sang, I smiled at the sun shining on me, there was no judgement out here. I observed such intricacies within nature, I came across an oversized pine tree the size of my head, a big tree that from afar seemed to have been attacked by bullets, as I came closer I noticed holes filled with acorns, to later know it was the art of survival created by an acorn woodpecker. You miss the art of life if you only walk through it, rather then being in it.
I found this awesome rock boulder and perched myself with this vast view of pine trees and meadow around me cracked a beer open and had my sandwich. I felt connected with something so deep. The trail just like life presents itself with a fork on the road, with little to no details; decisions have to be made. No one to guide you which way to go, you make your own decisions, you follow that "gut" feeling and continue. Yes, there was a moment of question am I on the right path? I had calculated a 5hr hike time and noticed the time was coming close to 4hrs. My mind began to breed self doubt. I had no map, besides a screen shot of the trail, my battery on my phone was at 20% and no reception. I admit I panicked, my breath got heavier and faster, I noticed my walk was no longer a steady pace, I gripped on to my pack tight, my thoughts began to fire blame for not being fast enough or calculated enough or unprepared, but this was it, this was the uncomfortable feeling that can take us deeper into darkness or guide us into our inner light. I stopped, took a deep breath and kept walking, I coached myself with the what ifs. The sun will start to set soon, meaning it will get colder, I brought an extra jacket, I got my headlamp and this trail will lead me to an exit, as long as I don't cut corners, it will lead me to where I need to be. 1hr later I was able to visibly see the road and a relief came upon me. I arrived to my car removed my boots to reveal 2 blisters on my feet, achy calves and my shoulders tight from my pack,
And now you ask why would you want to put yourself in this "adventure of self" to feel exhausted at the end of it all. Easy, because its putting ourselves out of our comfort zone, to be face to face with our own mind and thoughts. It is the most valuable essence one can get to achieve a better understanding of self, to grow and learn what moves you, to test your weaknesses or fears. Eliminate any obstruction that deters you from finding your inner self, that means embrace the uncomfortable.
Everything You Have Ever Wanted, Is On The Other Side Of Fear