Last week during the arctic freeze that blasted most of the east coast we caught a break. Temps rose from -4 to 14 degrees. The sky was clear and the sun was shining. It was an opportunity to get outside for some time in the woods.
I reached out to my friend and asked if he was up for some adventure in the backcountry, set up camp, build a fire, brew some cowboy coffee, and cook up a hot meal. He did not hesitate.
Once I was layered up with the proper winter clothing and my gear loaded into the car I made the journey to meet up with my friend. It had been a busy holiday season with family and extra hours at work had begun to stir some anxious feelings within me. I not only needed this time outside in the woods but also the time to connect in person with a friend.
We met at the trailhead and began to strap on our gear but not before taking a moment to catch up. Sure, we connect on social media, share our moments of the day, and plot out plans to get outside. But there is something about walking from my car across the snow and shaking the hand of a friend.
In-person connections are what builds lasting relationships. I have a like/dislike relationship with social media. I like it because it’s a great way to network and “connect” with people. It’s also a great tool to inspire people to move forward and make a difference. However, it was never meant to replace human contact and real-life relationships.
“Relationships are harder now because conversations become texting, arguments become phone calls, and feelings become status updates.”
After bantering on about the latest happenings in our lives we set out on the trail into the backcountry in search of the right location to set up camp. While hiking through six inches of snow and the bright sun our faces our conversation ranged from our families, work life, personal struggles we’re trying to overcome, the gear we were carrying, the hemlock forest we were walking through, the awesome lunch we were going to prepare, and the latest things we’ve learned from our outdoor experiences. We also discussed at length the topic of “opportunity.” Specifically the opportunity to get outside. My friend had shared with me how one of his friends “wished” he had more opportunity to get outside and explore the woods but shared that an opportunity rarely presented itself.
I thought about this as we sat around a warm fire sipping on coffee and eating pan-seared cod. What does one mean when they say they wish they had more opportunity to get outside? I understand, we all have obligations to our jobs and family and I am the first to say family first. But is our wishing for opportunity really an excuse?
It was 14 degrees but the shine was shining. For us, it was a heatwave and we did not allow the cold weather to be an excuse to keep us from an opportunity to get outside. We took advantage of the time off and we “made” the opportunity to get outdoors for some adventure. Sure, I had some emails to respond to and #LHX2018 promotions to post, but even #LHX2018 as it approaches won’t keep me from an opportunity to get outside.
Moments ago I stated I have a like/dislike relationship with social media. The dislike side comes when I sit down to check my Twitter account after a full day of time outside and with family only to discover I have 85 plus notifications of a tweet thread I’ve been tagged in that consists of conversations that go well…no where. There’s nothing productive within them. It’s coffee shop bantering without the coffee shop. Heck, at least in a coffee shop these conversations would have some sense of real connection because they would be taking place in person.
During one such life robbing thread an individual shared the following question; “do you people ever REALLY get outside or do you just tweet about it and grumble about wanting more opportunities to get outside? “When I read it my first thought was kudos to you ma’am for being so bold, but I hope you’re ready for the backlash” As I sat and braced myself for what I thought would be an entertaining exchange. To my surprise, no one responded. Either out of quilt or offense, no one was willing to answer her question.
While her tweet, I’m sure, came across to some as harsh and even offended someone, she did make a good point. The point of opportunity. We can either gripe about not having it or we can do something about it. It comes down to what you find more important and what you’re willing to make a priority in your life. When people tell me they wished they had more time to get outside I challenge them with an exercise.
- If you were to take a quiet moment and make a list of what you think is keeping you from getting outside more how long would that list be?
- Once you’ve made the list, carefully look it over and put a star on the items that are a must such as family and job.
- Next, go through the list, being completely honest, and cross off the items that really are not important or life-shattering. And yes, skipping a day at the gym is NOT life-shattering.
- Now, put a check next to the items, if any remain and still being completely honest with yourself, that are flexible. These are things you need to do but are not an immediate. Again, these are not life-shattering, it’s okay if the gutters aren’t cleaned out Saturday.
During a recent conversation with a co-worker, I challenged her this exercise. The next day when I saw her she showed me a bullet list in her journal. On the left was the list I challenged her with. It was full of red ink cross-outs and scratches. On the right a new bullet list. All the must-have’s were highlighted in yellow. Things like work and family. All the extra time she found for getting outside was highlighted in pink. She had sat down and made opportunities to get outside more and had them scheduled on her calendar. And oh yeah, one of the items she crossed off in red as NOT being a priority…social media. She added a note next to it that read; Relationships first!
Don’t wait for the right opportunity to get outside. Make an opportunity and get outside, and take someone with you.