Ode To The Outdoors

It’s a beautiful thing to have lungs that allow you to breathe air and legs that allow you to climb mountains and it’s a shame that sometimes we don’t realise that’s enough. 

I live in the city but escape into nature whenever possible. Urban living can be overwhelming; everyone’s in a rush. Sometimes it excites me, other times I find it draining. The “I’d be happy if” mentality is ever-lurking, a symptom of the modern struggle for purpose and self worth. People present themselves as decent, self sufficient, happy adults; taking care of whatever needs to be taken care of, always striving towards something better. 

I am a goal-oriented person who believes in self-improvement and accountability, pursuing dreams and becoming the best version of yourself. But I also think that at the extremes, feeling like there’s always another ‘thing’ to tick off the list can be quite unhealthy. If you misunderstand what truly makes you happy, reaching “something better” won’t leave you with a lasting sense of fulfilment. Because there’s just going to be another “something better” after that. And if, conversely, you are blessed to be rich and comfortable and have achieved everything you wanted in life, you may be sent into a tailspin when you discover that it solves none of those deep rooted questions. I’m no expert, but it seems like a mode of thinking we’re all entrenched in to some extent and I’m working to try and reverse some of those unhealthy habits in myself. 

People are searching for a reason for being. The friends I speak to can’t seem to find it in the cycles they feel stuck in. Social media has them comparing themselves to people who appear to live freely, roaming wherever and on their own terms. There is nothing wrong with that; there is dignity in every job. There is no need to vilify one or the other, especially not the 9-5. Every life has its ups and downs. Besides, there is something to be said for having needs, a routine, a cold hard reason to get up and work on things and keep yourself busy. It might not be quite the same thing as a true sense of purpose, though, and that’s the elusive thing more and more people are attempting to find. 

What’s my purpose? Where do I derive my deepest sense of joy from? 

At my core I feel happiest when I’m storytelling or outdoors. I know I’m lucky to know that, to feel that fierce sense of devotion to something that gives my life meaning. I never lost my childhood curiosity for the world around me, inspired by the outdoors, and the desire to communicate it. Nature fills me with a sense of wonder. A younger me dreamt of night skies cluttered with stars; of standing atop mountain peaks that rose above the clouds like snow-streaked castle turrets. I read about the weather, the earth, rocks, animals, the ocean. Mountaineers, scientists, artists and adventurers were my idols. This is all still true.

Now, as my gasping for O2 becomes greater, the chaos in my head becomes quieter. As my focus turns towards taking one more step, stroke, or hold forward over and over, it turns away from the past or future and puts me back in ‘now’. The steeper the trail, the more fluid my thoughts. The more exposed the ridge, the more perspective I gain. That is real joy, and I am grateful to know it.

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