At 9:30 last Saturday night I was running up a road back to my girlfriend’s white Nissan Rogue after completing a stunning backpacking trip through the Glacier Peak Wilderness in the Cascades (full trip report and vlog coming very soon). Three of us took on a 44 mile trek and I was pretty damn exhausted while finishing the last three miles, trail running up a mountain towards our transportation. All of this in celebration of the Fourth of July, or more just an excuse for a backpacking trip, which also happened to coincide with my nine months of living alcohol free.
One reflection I had while walking through these stupidly beautiful and varying landscapes, was how similar life is to the adventure we were on. Challenges in the outdoors can be very complex and require quick thinking, just as in real life. They can take you off track due to faulty route finding which in turn costs you time on the trail pushing goals and camps further from reach. They’re physically, mentally, and emotionally demanding. You’re always being faced with new challenges, both minor and major, some grueling, some require digging deep into your fear and conquering it, but they’re always overturning and linking from one to the next followed by breaks of insane beauty before reemerging you in chaos. You learn from each of these experiences and move on with the knowledge of how to handle a similar situation later. Shifty rocks, unstable snow, darkness setting with no camp in sight and mosquitos biting the shit out of any exposed skin, legs cramping, dehydration, exhausting heat, numbing cold.. the list goes on. No matter what happens during the trek, it must be finished at some point, in some way. The option to bow out and just not finish what you have started does not really exist after a certain point, unless not being alive is an acceptable outcome to you. Which means, when unfortunate circumstances arise, you have two options: be mentally miserable, bitch and complain, or you can find a way around the obstacles that present themselves and make the best out of your misfortune. Since we are just a bunch of organisms attempting to ping our neuro receptors with jolts of dopamine, adjusting your mindset to do the latter is possible.
The past nine months have been the most transformative, life altering months of my life. They’ve been productive in ways that will benefit me for years, perhaps decades, to come. Yet there is still an internal turbulence brewing that works against what I am trying to accomplish. I have had to learn to silence that turbulence, and also, energize it when necessary. To get to a place where that is possible, I need to completely calm my ever-pulsing brainwaves. Meditation has done me wonders. Intense exercise also helps clear the thought tinnitus riddled with politics, work tasks, relationship issues, and other trivial, lizard brained bullshit. But the activity that proves the most effective is, without a doubt, spending multiple days outdoors with a set goal to obtain. Removing myself from the stresses of modern life and replacing them with survival and nature allows a deeper cleansing than you’ll find at any Gold’s Gym and earns me a fresh perspective.
The days spent away this last week were more like a firmware update than a vacation. I regained my purpose for this quest. Remembered what it is that I am working for. Realized the progress I have made so far. Saw where I can make improvements. Got calibrated. A lot has changed in nine months, more positive change than at any point in my life, and I still have three more to go to finish off this year long assignment. In reality, it never stops, until it does, and I want to make it the best it can be all the way up and to the ending.
“You want to know what anger is? Well, just observe the sensations that arise and pass in your body while you are angry… … … Whenever I was angry, I focused on the object of my anger — something somebody else did or said — rather than on the physical reality of the anger.
… The most important thing I realized was that the deep source of my suffering is in the patterns of my own mind. When I want something and it doesn’t happen, my mind reacts by generating suffering. Suffering is not an objective condition in the outside world. It is a mental reacting generated by my own mind.” Yuval Noah Harari, author of Sapiens and Homo Deus, excerpt from Tribe of Mentors, by Tim Ferris
Cheers 🤙 ,