Why not? Yes, it will be cold, maybe even wet, muddy, frozen or terribly windy. But stepping outside our comfort zone is what builds character, encourages growth, strengthens our minds and bodies, shapes adventures and creates memories. There once was a time when I’d eagerly await the warmer months just so I could go camping again. My joyous outdoor spirit would sadly dim as fall descended into winter and I’d nervously plan up all the places I’d explore again once spring hit. Until one day, a friend asked if I wanted to go camping…in JANUARY!?!! I questioned every moment of the trip. Where would we sleep? How would we keep warm? What if it rains? What would we even DO!? I’ll tell you what, coming home from that first winter trip I felt like a freed animal who’d been caged. I was liberated and wide eyed with a cracked smile, thinking of the years to come. No need to cram all camping into 3 or 4 months anymore. Yes, my hands hurt sometimes when I went glove free to brush my teeth. Yes, it was extremely difficult to get out of bed in the morning (because I’m a big baby when it comes to being cold) but, I also was invigorated by this new glimpse of winter, had conquered a fear, and successfully shattered the claustrophobic mental confinements of “having” to staying home nearly half the year.
In this particular trip (to our favorite secret spot which I will not disclose) we spent a good part of the day wandering the high desert on our much needed snowshoes. It was the first time my new “modern” mukluks had been in wet snow, and to put it plainly, they failed, miserably. After a couple hours of trekking, my feet began swimming in their own little pools of cool snow melt, but thankfully, as long as I kept moving my feet kept warm enough. Now, even though these were my ONLY boots that weekend, I still had a silly grin on my face as I traversed the bright, snow blanketed landscape filled with juniper trees, sage brush, deer and bunnies.
Coming back to the comfort of this fire afterwards immediately stripped down all unnecessary things in my life, at least for that moment. I sat by that fire, kicked up my bare feet in 40 degree weather and re-evaluated my complicated, busy, distracted, abundant materialistic life. I pondered the life of a wanderer, a dirt bag, a hunter/gatherer, even your everyday homeless passerby. I started to yearn for simpler ways of living, and dreamed of purging anything that wasn’t ultimately needed to survive. I felt the tension start to melt off my face with these thoughts and before I knew it, the day was fading and the stars started appearing one by one. I developed a deep and genuine appreciation for anything that kept me warm and dry, my belly full, and the company that surrounded me. My heart shouted, THIS is how life should be lived, in full thankfulness and appreciation, each and every day.
I felt reborn, re-booted, re-energized, grounded and stripped to my core. I now realize that moments like these are not only refreshing, revitalizing, and at times uncomfortable, but are simply just required for ourselves to be “reset” in a way and reminded of the things that truly matter in this world.
So get out! Get uncomfortable! Stretch that comfort zone as often as possible!! And please, stay warm and dry my friends, CHEERS!