I’m beginning to understand the market for all-inclusive vacations. The concept of everything being set-up for the vacationer is enticing each time Peter and I set out for an adventure. At least it is for me. Just why it takes so long each and every time we go into the back country frustrates and baffles me like clockwork. Which is why I wax positive with this idea of the all-inclusive back country adventure.
Only problem is, the places we choose to venture into are so obscure this luxury does not exist. This and the whole reason behind these adventures: to get away from everything the world we live in revolves around. To do something that doesn’t involve the inevitable frustrations stemming from the rampant incompetence underlying most enterprises. It’s exactly why I like to escape it all and step into nature.
This trip is another example of both the frustration of getting to that first step and the massive relief of leaving it all behind. I found myself having to take deep breaths in the closed visitor center parking lot in Canyonlands National Park Needles District. It took so long to get our gear together and finally leave.
Irrational, yes. This impatience I am starting to see is rooted in my world at large. The very world that I need to leave behind from time to time. The world of schedules, events, flights, conference calls, demands for more of me for more of the above each and every day.
After two decades in sport I’m used to a strict schedule. Quite honestly nothing seems impossible when there is no demand on performance of the physical kind. But the need for routine and deadlines is almost pathological now. I find myself irrational often and I don’t like what I see. I expect things done fast and have the desire to just go and do it, now.
This does not exactly work when you’re heading into the back country with minimal gear and supplies. Everything has to be just right. And there is nobody there to make it so but Peter and me.
So I always find that first day of walking a sort of battle within. The battle of letting go of this self-induced frustration of always starting so late. So late with so many miles to go. Letting go of the inner pressure that we actually need to get somewhere and just letting myself enjoy the walking. Letting go of the many frustrations that build inside after living the bustle of my life for weeks and months at a time. Accepting the reality that there are no more Olympic sized goals left to live for. Realizing there are beautiful experiences to be had if I can just let go of the programming deeply routed in me after a life of sport and spotlight.
All of these things and more run through my head each time we set out for an adventure. The letting go happens fast. Soon I find myself enjoying the surrounding beauty. Enjoying the rhythm of walking, however slow. Feeling a sense of satisfaction with the weight of the pack on my back.
And then when we see an ancient pictograph high on a sandstone wall, the chip of an arrowhead at our feet below, a ruin thousands of years old or a pot shard black on white design showcasing an artists touch from so long ago, I realize clearly this existence is fleeting at best. So why not enjoy this time and place of every-changing life as I know it while I have it. Take a big breath and enjoy the experience. Find meaning in the simplicity of hiking a trail or camping in the snow.
Peter checking out a panel of pictographs thousands of years old
more amazing pictographs on the sandstone we saw on our hike
ancient pieces of pottery we saw on the desert floor
and finally the camp in the snow after the big storm….all worth it!
I suppose that’s the real reason to leave the civilized world from time to time. To slow it all down and gain perspective that there’s really only one life so live it and enjoy.
There need not be an Olympics or a dollar amount for the experience to live for. The best things in life are truly free if you can rid yourself of the ideas and attachments when you free yourself of it all.
Which is why we are heading out again tomorrow. To live this all again. What better way to pass the holidays than to feel this sense of being engaged and alive. What a gift it is.