I’d Settle for a Slow Down
Fast. Faster. Fastest.
It’s what we expect every day. And we want what we want when we want it. Over the years we have programmed and manipulated society into thinking that everything has to be right now. There is no reason to wait. There is no reason to slow down.
Fast food. Fast cars. Fast money. Fast connections.
We don’t want to wait in lines. We don’t want to wait for our internet page to load. Most of the general population can’t even wait to get to a 5-minute destination without sending text messages or checking their social media. They get stuck on “get rich quick” and “lose 7 lbs. in a week” plans. We simply don’t have patience anymore.
Oh no, somebody might have Facebooked me in the last two minutes, I have to check right now!
It’s actually kind of ridiculous when you think about it, but that’s the way we’ve been trained to think. And I’m guilty of it too! I find myself behind a car going 50 in a 55 mph speed zone and the first thing that pops into my head is “what nerve, going 5 below the speed limit.” Now you tell me, exactly how much sooner am I going to get to work if we’re only going 5 miles? Oh yeah, I saved a whole 60 seconds!
And it’s not just going to work. It’s everything. We spend hours and hours of our time on entertainment every year; movies, video games, T.V. shows. Why are those things important? And I’m not saying we don’t use any of that time to socialize and hang out with our friends and loved ones, but think about how much of that time is actually spent investing in the grand idea that our happiness should be instantaneous with our desires? And when it isn’t how quickly do we ignore the time to slow down and enjoy all of our day instead of just when we are filling our heads with a million things that are quite often not urgent and many times not even productive?
Is getting to that movie 2 minutes earlier worth getting angry at the car in front of us? Is that donut really worth getting impatient with the person in front of us at Dunkin Donuts and tapping our foot and hmphing at them? Are you telling me that the time of the person in that car and the person in that line is somehow less important than ours, because that’s what our behavior is yelling when we do that.
What’s the Point?
So, now I’m going on a thru-hike. 2,189 miles of hammocks and campfires and mountain streams. Guess what’s not there? Internet. Cars. Fast food. All the “fast” is taken out of my schedule. Suddenly, I’m so removed from “normal” society I’m either being admired, resented, or ostracized. The people who admire me are proud that I’m stepping outside the box and/or wishing they could do it too, so they settle for living vicariously through me. Those who resent me call me weird, crazy, or eccentric. They want to see me fail because they are my “haters” (a term socially coined by I don’t know who that I find rather interesting). Many of those people actually want to do it too or something equally as exciting, but can’t or don’t have the guts so they resent my ability to do it. Finally, there’s the group that ostracizes me. They tend to think life should be lived as dictated by society and “the norm.” I shouldn’t rock the boat or do anything that challenges what is socially acceptable.
How dare I step outside of their box.
So what do those three groups have in common? Fast is still integrated into their lives and it’s often times hard for them to really understand the hiker code of HYOH and focus on what you want out of it. It really doesn’t matter what other people think of you or how they react to what you’re doing because chances are you aren’t hiking 2,189 miles to make someone else happy or unhappy. I know I’m certainly not. This is a journey for me and only me. And the more I realize and accept that fact the more I realize one of the biggest reasons I’m taking this adventure is to slow my life down and enjoy it.
Quite frankly, I’m tired. Physically, mentally, emotionally I’m tired.
I’m tired of dashing to work 5 days a week. I’m tired of trying to make schedules that allow me to cram 100 different activities and responsibilities into my day. I’m tired of feeling like I failed if I don’t get said 100 things done each day. HYOH is a concept that will guide me every day of my 6 months on the trail. It will remind me that I’m striving to let go of fast and enjoy every day instead of always looking for my next weekend or vacation. I want to soak up every detail of my new life on the trail.
When I get off the trail fast food, fast cars, fast money, fast connections will all be waiting eagerly to claim my time again. Inevitably they will become part of my life again. The essential habit to acquire between stepping on the trail and stepping off will be not just taking a break from fast, but actually settling for a slow down to enjoy everything life has to offer.
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