4 Ways to Maintain an Adventurous Mindset in “The Real World”
There is a spider on the windowsill of my bathroom. He built a web in my seashell collection and now sits there like a fat house cat, slowly gorging himself on the moth he killed last week.
He has really helped me to adjust to life indoors.
I discovered shortly after trading my tarp tent for four walls and a bed that house plants alone were not enough to make me feel at home, and I entered a sort of botanical, entomological Martha Stewart phase of homemaking. Friends and family may look with confusion at the vacant bird’s nest that adorns my bookshelf, but I am surrounding myself with tangible reminders of my old life; like the birds that provide my decoration, I collect bark scraps, soft moss, or colorful rocks to line my own home.
I’m not suggesting that everyone become a nature hoarder, but rather using my own foibles to illustrate the vacancy created by removing nature from our daily lives. I’ve asked myself many times over the past year, ‘how can I continue to feel alive now that the trail is finished?’ As the days grow shorter again and fall lurks ahead, promising to close my windows and banish my tent to storage for another season, I find myself once more mentally preparing for fewer adventures and more tea.
I am certainly not the first person to address the matter of readjusting to life after the trail, but I am going to add to the growing suggestions for how we can learn to live outside inside:
1) Walk every day
You don’t have to be a marathon runner or even an avid hiker when you return from the trail to stave off that inevitable slump, but make sure you still walk. Walk down town. Walk to the park. Walk to get your groceries. Or walk down the dirt road you live on. It doesn’t matter where you retire to after the AT as long as you keep moving and remind yourself there is still a huge world outside your door.
2) It’s what’s inside that counts
Your house, that is. Make your living space one you actually want to live in. I’ve known plenty of traveling types who get home and sleep on a bare mattress until their next adventure. It should be obvious, but living like an animal causes depression. Yes, while on the AT you slept in mouse feces, but your home at large was the woods in all of their misty, eerie, sunny majesty. It’s a little hard to go from that to the Nirvana posters in your childhood bedroom.
So when you do get your own space, surround yourself with the things you love – books, lights, music, flowers, colors! Don’t be drearily sitting under a bare bulb planning your next big adventure – unless you want it to take an eternity to finally arrive.
Remember those times on the AT when you wished so badly that the car at a trailhead was yours? That you could outrun that crazy storm, hop in, and drive home to your own shower, your own bed, and your old friends waiting for you with a beer? Now you can do that. That’s pretty awesome. So make a ton of plans with those friends to get out and stay out on the weekends or even after work. You have to plan these times though. Plan them a month, two months ahead so that you have something to look forward to and keep you sane while you re-adjust to fluorescent lighting.
After your first week at home, make a list of a few of your favorite things about not being on the AT (really). Nail it to your wall (or fridge magnets are cool, whatever). When you are feeling truly antsy – just out of your head with the desire to walk out of your workplace and never come back – take out this list. Go home on that horrible, rainy day and don’t read this blog. Instead, cook an incredible dinner – or order hot food straight to your house.
Make tea, eat icecream, watch a movie or read a book – any book you want – from the library. Go out for a beer, go out dancing, plan your garden for the spring. Do something on your list that reminds you how lucky you are, after all, to have had such an incredible adventure and to be finished with it. Isn’t it nice to sleep without a stranger suddenly hugging you and snoring directly into your ear?
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