Finding Your Adventure Pants
It’s easy to let your imagination run wild and dream of a big adventure. You can scroll through Pinterest or Instagram and see endless travel inspiration posts. You can use Google Maps to zoom in to explore the features of faraway places. You can look at beautiful photographs, read reviews, and save places you’d like to visit someday.
Doing this can be fun and exciting, but it can be dangerous, too. It can lead to comparison and disappointment that all these other places are better than where you currently are. It can turn into a preoccupation with the past and future rather than the present moment.
It can become an obsession. An idealization. A fantasy.
Though I only spent a few autumn days hiking in Colorado, it solidified my passion for being outside and spending time in the mountains. It was blissful and I truly did not want to leave.
After I returned home to Michigan, I found myself imagining mountains as I gazed at the skyline. My ego’s reaction became, “I left Colorado, but Colorado never really left me. It’s not as pretty and there aren’t enough trails to explore. It’s not worth your time.”
I found myself stuck in a trap of comparing where I was to where I wanted to be.
For months, I didn’t do much hiking. I stayed inside, brooding and planning other trips I could take in order to spend more time in the mountains. I became so fascinated with faraway locations that I found myself discarding what was right in front of me.
I felt like I was stuck in a place with very little possibility for adventure.
…Because that’s the story I was telling myself.
I’d think, “When I travel or relocate somewhere mountainous, I’ll do a lot more hiking.”
I was creating a narrative of “whens”. This narrative limited me from fully experiencing what was available to me in my area.
One day, I got sick of feeling miserable. I decided to put on my adventure pants. I wore the exact same outfit as I had worn to hike in the Rocky Mountains. I told my corgi, Waffles, “We’re going on an adventure.”
For once, I opened Google Maps and looked close rather than afar. Gradually, I took myself out to more and more trails in my area.
In my random exploration, I found a nearby park with many rugged, hilly trails. Because I crave challenging trails with elevation changes, this discovery excited me like nothing else. I keep returning to this park and continuously exploring it. There’s something so freeing and magical about wandering through a forest, merely exploring for the sake of exploration. I get lost and follow my intuition back. I always find my way back, but it is not always the way I arrived.
Adventure is what you make it.
When you make the choice to explore a new place, there is no certainty. You’re going out into the unknown. There is no guarantee that it will be a wonderful experience… but there is certainly the opportunity.
When I hike, I become present with nature. I take in all the sights, sounds, and smells. It grounds me; challenges me; calms me; rejuvenates me. It gives me clarity and focus. It makes me feel a powerful connection within myself.
I decided it is important for me to feel those feelings on a regular basis, so I made hiking an irreplaceable part of my life.
While there are plenty of beautiful, challenging trails in mountainous locations that I’d love to visit someday, I’ve decided to NOT discard my current location out of comparison. Mountains are magnificent, but hills are great, too. There may not be mountains in Michigan’s lower peninsula, but I found my bliss on the rugged, hilly trails at my local park.
“Nothing is more precious than being in the present moment. Fully alive, fully aware”. -Thich Nhat Hanh
Whether you’re going to hike a mountainous national park or a small local forest, put on your adventure pants and get outside.
Nature is everywhere. Go experience it. Wander, get lost, and stay awhile.
Because an adventure begins when you say it does.