Life feels complicated and the world is going to hell in a handbasket. It’s so easy to despair. Why does camping make me feel better?
1) Simple success.
Excel &%$# and never-ending email and f***ing finances. Can I ever be a good enough friend, wife, daughter, or professional? When I’m in the woods the tasks are straightforward and the benefits immediate. Basic competency is easily achievable and incremental improvement accessible. I take pride in doing simple things well.
2) Living is nice.
Basic survival makes me really like living. Nothing like some physical deprivation and discomfort to put existential anxiety in its place.
Sometimes just being alive is satisfying. At the end of a day not much else matters. Things like being warm and well fed become deeply enjoyable.
I unplug from the constant nagging of the world. It’s not just social media, or politics, or my own to-do list. It’s the constant hum of humanity. It’s not a recent problem. Since the dawn of civilization sages and scientists have written about the need for humans to step out of our cultivated environment back into nature.
It’s just gotten harder. Where else can I not just unplug from work, but from layers of construct and meaning?
4) Spontaneous mediation.
I once broke down crying after a meditation retreat because I had been trying too hard to meditate.
During extended time in the woods I don’t have to try to meditate, it just seeps in between the cracks. As life gets simpler and slower, contentment finds me when I’m not even looking.
Some general advice for getting out in the woods:
- Ease in and out. It can be a big shift in environment. Be gradual in slowing down into the woods and then in ramping back up into city life.
- Set yourself up for a positive experience. Don’t go in over your head – be prepared. Take on only as much wilderness as you are ready for. It’s not a competition in hardship.
- Give it time. There are not many things in which you get great benefit done only one weekend once a year. If you’re sold on the benefits of being in nature, then give it an honest commitment.
- It’s not magic. Don’t expect instant miracles of self fulfillment. It doesn’t need to be a Disney princess forest wonderland.