Every time I’ve sat down to write this post, I’ve fought the urge to lead with “The thing I love most about rivers is you can’t step in the same river twice.” Not sure what to do about that but I figured I'd share.
Hiking has been a new venture for me. I’ve only got 3 under my belt and my first one was April last year in Washington. I used to avoid them like the plague, citing the root of my distaste as being because I preferred to sweat in a “controlled environment”, you know, like a gym or yoga studio. But OUTSIDE? With all the animals and air and everything?! No thank you.
But as I’ve gone hiking more and more (again, thrice), themes have popped out to me. Most apparent being, hiking is unpredictable. Yes of course it’s outside, which means weather conditions can change in an instant (which we’ll discuss in a second), but I mean even if all remains calm, the odds are you’re not walking on a paved road or flat grass. Every step has rocks, or tree roots, or a river to maneuver, and in that way, each step forces you to be present and think about what you’re doing. It requires mindfulness and doesn’t allow much room for planning moves too far in advance. All you have is what’s in front of you, and I've often found I don’t know what step I’m going to take until I’m already taking it. I think I’ve come around to hiking because I'm starting to be able to appreciate at least that little challenge to my need for control. The tiniesttttt loosening of a white knuckle grip.
In Hawaii, we went on a hike that went from a gentle lesson in releasing control to a master’s class in how to cope when you’re completely at nature’s whim. A sudden downpour caused a flash flood in the ravine we were hiking, making the river too high/fast/dangerous to cross to get out. We were stuck, and scared, and even though it would have been great to have gone the whole trip without thinking our lives were in danger, that experience, and getting through that experience forged something in us. Something that you just cannot get in a gym or a yoga studio. Listen I'm not saying go out and find a dangerous hike in dangerous conditions and risk your life to feel something. But I am saying hey, maybe go outside. Get out of your comfort zone. Climb a tree. Try a nice easy hike. I mean, I might not for another 6 to 8 months, but you definitely should.