"But risks must be taken because the greatest hazard in life is to risk nothing. The person who risks nothing, does things, has nothing, is nothing. He may avoid suffering and sorrow but he cannot learn, feel, change, grow or live. The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; and the realist adjust the sails."
-William Arthur Ward
When the cold, hard water hit my back, I suddenly became more aware. This was going to be my last shower until...well, I do not know exactly. This had never occurred to me before. Not now, not previously. I have gone days and days in the backcountry with out showering but those trips have always had a finite ending. This trip, although having and ending, it is no where in site.
While I stood their and felt the beads of water that were being thrown from the shower head as if their were some animosity between us, I began to wonder what else I was going to be missing out on: all the fall season premiers; football; baseball post-season; a toilet; running water; a washer and dryer; and a chance to return that over-due library book How to Plan: Secrets Behind Organization. The irony and humor in that last one was suddenly blatantly and somewhat insulting. Oh well.
I grabbed a bottle of shampoo that did not belong to me, flipped it upside down and gave it a forceful squeeze, "huh, it is almost gone," and out came an electric blue, tiny bead filled ooze. "I wonder if this stuff is bad for me?" I placed my left hand in my right and began to slide the odd electric substance around and thought about the other things that would become foreign to me: shampoo, laundry detergent, eating out and surfing the web. It would be a long time before these items would become common place instead of once-in-a-blue-moon luxuries.
My bar of soap has tiny "micro blast beads" that are supposed to exfoliate and clean your skin but every time I grab it I think about how abrasive this bar of cleansing really is and how I believe that despite its abrasive nature it is more of a benefit that a detriment. I start the process of using the bar of fine sandpaper to work the days of climbing dirt off my legs when my mind begins to wander to things that I am supposed to believe are big steps in societal evolution and benefit but just may be a way to keep people around to spend more money: a house with multiple rooms; T.V.s; the internet; microwaves; water heaters; furnaces - all these things have no doubt improved the quality of living but may not be more than anchors to keep people from exploring their own lives. This big 8-month trip starts tomorrow. We leave in the morning and I will leave many, if not all, of these societal baby blankets behind. No more take-out, laundry, excess space, Breaking Bad, and showers.
As I stepped out of the shower and grabbed the towel, feelings of excitement, encouragement and a drive to explore forward came across my body like a wave. These "things" were just that - things. There is no need for me to stick around just to have these things. Moving forward, constantly adjusting the sails and enjoying the way life is at its exact moment is all I need to focus on. By leaving the distractions of college football and how its post-season does not really work; who is the next American Idol judge; or thoughts of "which room of the house should I eat my take out in?" behind I am confident I will not be lacking in happiness, fulfillment or over-all pulp as a human being. These things are merely distractions and decoys of happiness through adventure and I fully support leaving them behind, pointing yourself towards the sunset and embarking.
...but still, I cannot help but wondering when the next time I am going to be able to wash in between my toes will be...
Written on September 5th, 2013 by Patrick Betts