ARE WE THERE YET?
The most overused question ever uttered in adventure travel history broke my train of thought and annoyance immediately swamped my soul. The sun had just started to set on the ridge as my wife, our two youngest boys, and myself were heading out to soak up some of the last days of summer with a camping and hiking trip. The destination of Siskiyou Peak was on tap, a semi-remote area tucked behind Mt. Ashland, located in the backcountry of Southern Oregon. That infamous question, along with other various forms of “are we there yet?” or “how much longer?” broke up the tranquility I long for on journeys such as these.
As a father, I constantly hear such phrases uttered traveling wherever our outdoor pursuits take us. I just about blurted out my normal sarcastic response of ‘5 minutes’ when I noticed in my side mirror a pair of feet dangling innocently out the car window. Those feet belonged to none other than the originator of the question, my 7-year-old son Bren. Taking a moment (and a picture) to gather myself, I quickly realized that this wasn’t the normal impatient outburst, which usually surfaces as a byproduct of hunger, urinary needs, and/or boredom. This time it came from a place of true enjoyment. He wanted to simply know how much longer he could hang his feet out the window and let them fly in the wind. Kids possess such a pure and simple way of looking at life. Strapped into the backseat of the old Ford Explorer, with no air conditioning, and unable to have much freedom, he stumbled onto a profound lesson I believe could benefit all of us. He found a way to enjoy what he was doing despite the circumstances.
Most of us, with the hustle and bustle of our modern-day life, forget what this is like. We stress out over getting to our destination in a ‘results’ driven culture that only concerns itself with the finished product. Constantly drawing our attention to think about what we don’t have, what we should have, and what we wish we were doing. Enjoyment is sacrificed on the altar of scurrying around our urban lives, trying to keep up with imaginary social demands. Adventuring outdoors seems to rectify this in my life in a way very few things can. Primal living and the connection with nature simplifies life by highlighting what our true needs are, thus opening the door for enjoyment. Admittingly, this process most often occurs after I reach my outdoor destination. This time, with the help of my son, the refocusing of enjoyment started way before I got there. It started with my son asking a harmless question.
Next time you find yourself grinding endlessly for that coveted destination or goal in life, take a lesson from Bren. Let go a little and find a way to enjoy yourself and let your feet fly… and by the way it doesn’t cost much to change. If fact, it’s free.