Thursday, February 16, 2012

The Lure of the Outdoors

Have you ever wondered why the people who like the outdoors actually like the outdoors? Is it the freedom, the sights, the smells, a link to primitive roots, or does it just make for interesting conversation?  I have met several kinds of people, all of whom have different perspectives about nature and the outdoors.   Some people won't even walk off the edge of the sidewalk while at the other end of the spectrum there are individuals have such overwhelming conviction that they dedicate their entire lives to the outdoors and preserving the flora and fauna that inhabit her and conserving the same opportunity to enjoy a beautiful country for the generations to come whether or not they appreciate it or not.  John Muir was one of the pioneers for a movement of conservation, preservation and understanding of the great outdoors.  Basically, ole Johnny and some other folks made being outdoors cool! 

I sat down today and thought about why I love the outdoors so much?  Does everyone feel the same way? Is is weird or normal?  My answer to myself was its completely normal to like being outdoors to go fishing, hunting, camping, etc, but taking it just a step higher and going camping and living in the woods for almost 4 1/2 months may not be for everyone.  To tell the truth I can't get enough of it.  I wanted to see if there was an answer, if I could put it in writing why I love it so much and why other people like it in doses as well.

I like going really deep into the wilderness to places unknown or less-traveled far  far away from roads and civilization, away from my vehicle and other vehicles, away from cell phone reception,  the dimmest glow of city lights, and any noise except from the night and day naturally.  I want to be completely immersed in the circle.  When I go on trips I want to feel like a part of the environment not a visitor.  As weird as it may sound, its kind of nice to join the food chain and not be at the top.  It adds a sense of danger and adventure and really makes you feel a part of nature.  Please don't misinterpret this for stupidity like I want to get attacked by a bear or bitten by an alligator, it just keeps your mind sharp, clear, and focused.  It makes the experience vivid!  Sometimes people get clouded by comfort, complacency, t.v., drugs, alcohol on a regular basis and don't ever actually SEE anything worth seeing.  The senses are never  really stimulated naturally!  Its like fast food for the senses - its cheap,  fills you up for a minute, leaves you with no nutritional value and is shortly flushed down the toilet and out of your memory.  I have walked it the rain thousands of time in my life too and from a thousand places but I don't remember them.  None of the situations ever stuck out.  Sometimes the rain was warm, sometime cold, or sometimes in the middle.  It didn't matter because I still don't remember.  I'll never forget till the day that I die..., ( I even feel like if I get Alzheimer's, that this memory is so strong and vivid I still won't forget it), a day that it rained while I was walking through the White Mountains in New Hampshire.  It was a rather cool day, but shorts and a t-shirt were in order due to the pace and climbs expected for the day's plans which would most definitely keep the body warm.   Boomerang and myself were hiking up a peak a couple shy of Mt. Washington  when we started ascending through the some clouds that had set in.  A heavy set of "cumo numbos" (its what I like to call the rain clouds stemming from the scientific cumulus nimbus cloud). I remember not thinking too much about anything at the time nor could I see very much due to the cumo numbos we were walking in.  Dave "Boomerang" was a good ways ahead of me or behind me, I can't remember, but  all of sudden got this really strange feeling.  It was a feeling of overwhelming joy, peace, and calm elation (I know that sounds weird, but I don't know how else to describe it).  I had walked out of the clouds and I was looking down as they were rushing through the valley like they were being sucked through a straw and it began to rain and rain hard.  It was as the rain was coming right out the the clear blue sky.  Alot of times on the trail I didn't really want to be wet because it meant for a cold day, full of chaffing soggy feet, and walking in the mud, but this time it was different.....much different.  I felt like that very particular rain was just for me.  There wasn't anyone else around except Dave somewhere and there were no clouds it seemed to be coming from.  It was cold, probably too cold to just stand still in the rain with shorts and a t-shirt, but I didn't mind.  I looked up at the sky and felt the rain come down.  It was exhilarating.  It was like time slowed down and I could feel every cold raindrop hit my face and wander down only to get swallowed up by a parched  t-shirt.  Pretty soon I was soaked and had this ridiculous smile on my face and I couldn't get rid of it.  The kind of smile you have when you randomly run into a good friend you haven't seen in years after having a few drinks (That kind of smile hahaha). The kind that hurts your face after a while.  I had never "felt" the rain before or tasted it the way it tasted like I did during this moment.  The whole thing was cleansing  I couldn't understand it.  What was happening?  Was I dying or having an out of body experience?  I was so high on life. Simple as that.   My body felt light, I felt overwhelmingly happy and I didn't have a care in the world.  Every thing was right.....just right.....perfect.  That mountain was built just for me the clouds in the valley were put there just for me and the rain was there to stop me in my tracks and say "hey man, look around and see what was put here for you, isn't it neat?,  This is what it's all about..sometimes you just have to slow down, lift your head up and allow your senses to be open to the natural stimulation right here around you - It feels good doesn't it!"    It was a  It probably sounds dumb to a lot of folks cause most haven't felt it.  Some people try the cheap knock off way to get high with drugs or alcohol, but it can't be the same.  My senses and mind weren't dulled  or there was no neurological overload from some manufactured stimulant.  This high lasted!  Ever since that day, it has become easier and easier to get that high.  I now know how allow myself to get it and I know where to look.  

Next time you go to the great outdoors, go and be a part of it, don't just visit.  Be cognizant of everything around you.  Walk slow, smell things and touch your surroundings.  Look at things that you normally don't look at.  Take in the landscape, the atmosphere, and the notice how it makes you feel.  Smell the grass and look at the veins in the leaves.  Everything has a purpose and is suppose to be there and so are you.  That's the best part!  You are a part of it all, even if only for a little while (maybe only a day or the weekend).  Let yourself feel good and wild.  Allow your senses to be overwhelmed.  It doesn't always take something huge to WoW amaze you.  Sometimes a million little things that you actually take the time mentally slow your mind down and appreciate can have the same effect as one huge amazing thing.  It is a fact that you can train yourself to get high like this and once you do, you'll be addicted and need it all the time, and think about it all the time, but the best thing about this drug is, is that too much is a GOOD thing, it doesn't cost a nickel, and you don't have to find a sketchy dealer to get it because its all around you for free! Remember, we don't live in this world, we live on it.  Take a look around  every once in a while at the good things on it too.