I am currently working my way through the book, Paddlenorth, that my sister-in-law lent to me recently. In the middle of my run the other day (the best place to sort things out sometimes), I was thinking about this passage I had read that had apparently struck a chord with me:
“I expected the tundra to clear the cobwebs, turn on the creativity, dispense with my worries, and strengthen my body. I wanted it to do the work for me. Perhaps I was becoming one of those people who ask too much of the wilderness, who cram it so full of expectations that it becomes more of an idea than a real place.”
Jennifer Kingsley, Paddlenorth
I suppose it came about because I was thinking about how this was the umpteenth millionth time I had jump started my resolve to finally make a habit out of exercise.
My relationship with exercise has always been a bit of a bumpy one, very on-again-off-again. But I always keep coming back to it, which is the important part I guess. I like how it makes me feel a little bit invincible. For a small while anyway, until the runner’s high wears off…
Anyway, it got me thinking about all of the (many) attempts I’ve had in the name of trying to “renew”or “reinvent”or “reset” myself. I tend to come to a point periodically where I am just so fitfully tired of who I have been lately, feeling like the worst version of myself too much, wanting to be better and do better and maybe finally become that person I always fancy myself being.
Oftentimes what comes next is a period where, in the name of “finding myself”, essentially I try to run away from myself.
Because that makes sense.
Only after reading that passage did I fully understand that that is what I’ve been doing. Often times I try escaping on a trip somewhere or losing myself outdoors. The newness and adventure make it easy to feel like I’m starting over. It’s a wonderful distraction from truly coming to terms with my problems.
I mean in no way to take away from the joys of travelling or the outdoors and their ability to refresh and inspire a soul, because these are some of the biggest joys in my life. But they should not be used as a fix-all. As the quote says, that is asking too much of it. And will only result in disappointment when, after coming back from those things, old habits slip right back in, much too easily.
I have finally come to understand that improving and making oneself better and truly learning to love oneself comes from only one place: within. It’s not rooted in trips or material goods or anything else. I am the only one that can be responsible for bettering myself. And yes, it is going to take a lot of work to get there. But the only way is through.
It’s equally important to understand that there are going to be bumps in the road, wanderings off the path, even lost in the woods again. This is what it is to be only human. It’s important not to get discouraged and bogged down by that.
What truly matters is that you keep picking yourself up and dusting yourself off, even if it’s the umpteenth millionth time.
Because living a good life is worth it.