I had a relative visiting over the holidays and, of course, since all she wanted to do was hike I was the point man for all the adventures she had planned.
This was exciting, since I seldom had time for hiking last year, but once we started – I knew it would be just like the rest.
This relative, like many of the friends I hike with, had an infatuation with exploring her island home and crossing off hikes left to right.
An inner fire fueled her eager footsteps, but it almost felt like hiking was a task to be completed, or as if reaching our destination would be some sort of trophy to take home.
This irks me a whole lot and I absolutely hate it, among other things:
I hate when hikers have their phones out throughout the hike and are literally documenting the entire journey.
I hate when cute poses for pictures are glorified and when everything after the photo shoot seems like a step down.
I hate when we're travelling too fast, because we "need" to get to our destination and leave by a certain time to stay on track.
I hate when the time at a destination is cut short because someone: needs the bathroom, made plans for right afterward, finished posting everything on social media or just got bored.
I hate when natural occurrences tick people off while hiking, like when it's "too" hot, cold, bright, dark, muddy, wet, gray, salty, murky, sandy, etc.
And the list goes on!
Enjoy the journey
I don't want anyone to get the impression that I'm a control-obsessed maniac who hates his family and friends. I'm not, but whatever happened to just enjoying the journey?
Seriously. It's like people have become so absorbed in their gadgets that anything outside their screen is not only unappealing, but unimportant.
On the other hand, people today are sometimes so unfamiliar with the outdoors that they feel uncomfortable and insecure. Of course, this is a real concern, but this energy creates an egocentric atmosphere to other hikers.
Complaining about how hot and humid it feels does nobody any favors and won't bring you any resolution.
Why welcome people who have technology attached to their hips or who feel as if they're the center of the universe when in the wilderness.
These kinds of people aren't in it for the journey and perhaps not even the destination, but to have a story for the day.
We are not here for that in 2019!
It's not about the destination
You hear it all the time and it's true: It's not about the destination, but the journey it took to get there. The same rings true for hiking.
The following excerpt is from European songwriter and author Charlotte Eriksson, a woman whose work I'm not familiar with, but I agree with and appreciate her words:
"Go outside. Don't tell anyone and don't bring your phone. Start walking and keep walking until you no longer know the road like the palm of your hand, because we walk the same roads day in and day out, to the bus and back home and we cease to see.
"We walk in our sleep and teach our muscles to work without thinking and I dare you to walk where you have not yet walked and I dare you to notice. Don't try to get anything out of it, because you won't. Don't try to make use of it, because you can't. And that's the point.
"Just walk, see, sit down if you like. And be. Just be, whatever you are with whatever you have, and realize that that is enough to be happy. There's a whole world out there, right outside your window. You'd be a fool to miss it."
And you really would be a fool not to take advantage of our breathtaking, beautiful spots on island.
But you'd be even more of a fool to take on trails with a phone always in hand and thoughts clouded by technology along the way.
If that's what you've been doing, then you're doing it wrong, my friend.
What if I told you the best memories to be made and adventures accomplished are the ones you pay attention to? Groundbreaking.
But truly, what do you think you'd have to gain if you left your phone in your bag or pocket and left your attention to wander?
I can tell you while hiking you'd see some pretty amazing things!
You'd notice how unbelievably vibrant our island is, especially when red dirt meets a river's murky, blue-ish waters underneath a canopy of glowing green foliage.
If you look closely, you could see the near-perfect lines that outline leaves and the crunchy, decades-old trunk of a brittle, but towering coconut tree.
If you take a short walk through the jungle, you'd notice the lifetime of plants and trees, where unique yellow, brown and green leaves litter jungle floors and old branches hang like ornaments from treetops.
If you invest the time, you'd enjoy the companionship of wild animals met during a hike. Some unfriendly carabao once let me take their photos up close after about half an hour of carefully inching toward them, smiling and acting silly all the while.
The same could go for shrimp, fish, insects, birds and other animals on island – if you take the time to notice them, let alone interact with them.
What other things are you sleepwalking through in life?
'Make your life meaningful'
The lesson here couldn't be any clearer.
Debasish Mridha, an American physician, philosopher and author, wrote something I think sums up what we're trying to get at:
"To find the meaning of life, enjoy the journey, the beauty of the nature, the glint of a dewdrop, the warmth of the morning sun, the songs of the wind, and smiles of flowers. These are all there to make your journey worthwhile and make your life meaningful," Mridha wrote.
So, take your phone and prepare what you need to be comfortable when hiking. The experience is yours for the making!
Just remember to be an explorer and not a conqueror, and a person who uses technology to share and savor moments, not to be visible online or keep busy.
The world around you opens up only if you do.
Happy New Year and happy hiking!