This blog started with a Facebook post, written shortly after returning from a (1-day) trip the mountains (Leadville/Mt. Massive and Mt. Elbert):
Every time I come back from the mountains, I ask myself “Why the F did I come back?” (In reality, I know the answer. Society asks that I have a job and a physical place to live). I’m tied between wanting to contribute to society, to make a difference, and the want to escape the complicated and busy structure of our world (of course, it isn’t all bad). Does anyone else face this dilemma?
I have my own further thoughts on this topic (perhaps a future blog post), but I’d love to hear the insight, questions, and wisdom (not necessarily advice) of others who also question this dichotomy.
*I added in the not necessarily advice part later.
I got quite a few replies, some advice, some various perspectives, and mainly a “I feel that way too”. Which upon reflection, was really what I was looking for. A sense of universality, that others both felt and questioned (society/life) the way I do. When I realized the post had gathered some heat/interest and that I personally had more exploring to do as well, I decided to write a bit more.
Living in the world, being part of the world, making a difference in the world does not mean, at least for me, living in the confines of society. That, for myself, is the answer that I have come to, but my conclusion is not so easy to put in words, though I can not say it is complicated either. It’s just what is.
The dilemma I mention in my Facebook post is not so black and white as it seems. It is not between being a hermit in the mountains and praying for a better world or living in the city and working in an office for 9 hours.
And, while I do believe energy, prayer, and intention does have an impact on the world, I am not so ethereal to believe that is all that is needed…that I could just live in a cabin and meditate and play outside all day. I am a big believer in action too.
My work as a (wilderness) therapist will involve both, the energetic and the physical manifesting.
So if I choose to live in the mountains, can I be a giver of both as strongly as if I lived in the city (or in a small city like Boulder)? Really, that is the heart of my question.
While I believe that the answer is very individual to anyone who asks the question, I’m starting to figure out my own truth. Admittedly, part of my answer might go against the simplicity I crave (I’m reminded of a particularly sarcastic blog by Dakota Jones on car camping), but modern technology and transportation might help solve some of my conflict, or help me find harmony in the dichotomy.
Then there’s the bigger question. Despite the fact that humans are living closer than ever before, that wifi and cell phones let us connect to hundreds of people, even across the world, are we becoming more lost, more disconnected? (For more on the topic, read Johann Hari’s book Lost Connections) And not just from other humans, but from the land that bore us too, to our Mother Earth? Are we supposed to live in apartments, or with the land? I could go on and on…and on with questions like this. But I’ll save you my words and ask that you have this conversation with yourself. And if you don’t find an answer, that is okay. Just keep questioning, stay curious. Because while it is the mountains that make my soul sing, and often the cities that make me cringe, I’ve also found profound beauty in the mass humanity of the city street as well.
[The Boy just got done finishing the Kodiak 100, a 100 miles race in the San Bernardino mountains, and we were reflecting on his journey on the drive back to the airport. He said is favorite part was nearly 80 miles in, when he was running down Sugarloaf Mountain and the 50k runners, who had just started, were coming up. People were smiling, hi-fiving, and struggling, all together. That, I thought, might be the best of both worlds, the crowds and mountains. People connecting and encouraging each other while journeying through the wilderness.]
And maybe all this girl really needs is her dog.
Tips for returning from the mountains/wilderness:
- Before you depart from your adventure, ask yourself “What am I bringing back with me?” Are there any reminders from being in the wilderness that you can bring back with you into everyday life?
- Create extra awareness on the drive back. Don’t speed out as fast as you can. Choose your pace/speed wisely.
- Use your phone with awareness. If possible, give yourself sometime before checking your inbox and text messages.
- Practice self-care. Take extra time (space) to do things. Get enough sleep. In other words, don’t just jump back into the hustle and bustle of life.
- For long trips, and trying to communicate your experience with family and friends, consciously choose what you share and who you share with. It is often difficult to communicate the sacred. (It also often helps to ask what others have been up to first, before diving into your experience.)
- Remember, continuing change takes time and practice. If there is something you want to bring back with you, like journaling or slowing down before dinner, create action steps to make them a habit.
- Be kind to yourself. Your going to forget. It will seem like the mountains have left you. But they never leave you. They are in you.