An Adventure Filled Life–Thru-Hiking the Colorado Trail
(Today will be the second post from Venture who is Thru-Hiking the Colorado Trail. After we hear from him, I will share my thoughts on An Adventure Filled Life)
I just arrived in Salida today! Here is an update for you! (Editors Note: When walking such long distances you can’t carry all your supplies with you. Instead, you arrange for them to be waiting for you at Mail Drops along the Trail where your resupply and communicate with the world.)
Tramping along the Colorado Trail is one of the most sustainable ways to spend 30-50 days of your life! No carbon emissions, no water, electrical, gas or trash bills! Your water is direct from nature’s tap (filtered and or treated of course in most situations). Your light source is the headlamp on your head run by 3 AAA batteries, your shelter is in the pack on your back! The rain washes away any evidence of your passage and no one will ever know you camped in that magical spot! Leave no trace and enjoy some of our countries most beautiful landscape.
I have completed 232 miles of the Colorado Trail on my own two feet! Rocking the Brooks Cascadia on my trampers!
See them at Amazon.com: Brooks Men’s Cascadia 8 Trail Running Shoes
I find hiking helps me meditate! I find rhythm as I move across the land and the fresh air fills my lungs. My mind becomes clear and I fully believe that I am in my element. Bringing my life back to the basics of waking, eating, walking some more, eating and lying down to sleep makes me feel centered. The muscles in my legs are strengthened day by day! I catch glimpses of the natural world around me in ways I never thought possible!
Finding Happiness in Adventure
I’m reading a book by Max Vance called “The Adventure Filled Life” and in it he talks about three different models people use to find happiness. (Available on the Kindle for $3.99 at WARNING about half the book is filled with hatred toward his ex-wives, it’s awful, so only get it if you can just ignore that part of the book:)
The Adventure-Filled Life Collection: Books of Empowerment
He says the three models are:
Happiness by Accumulation: You try to buy happiness by following the American Dream and you keep accumulating MORE of everything. First you get a wife, kids and a job. Then you climb the ladder at work and get a bigger house, better car, more stuff, better stuff, more toys, better toys, more security. You try to find happiness by getting More of everything.
Happiness by Self Denial: this stood out to me in the comments about last weeks post on Thru-Hiking. Several readers wrote in to let me know that they were very happy with their lives because they had sacrificed it for their families. Only a selfish person would be out playing and hiking instead of providing for his family. In many comments there is an underlying feeling that they are proud that they didn’t live a happy life and anyone who did should actually be ashamed. I also see this model of happiness in some peoples insistence on minimalism. They believe the only way to be happy is to have LESS stuff.
Happiness by an Adventure Filled Life: This is the model that our friend Venture is following and that I try to follow as well. The idea here is forget about having more or less stuff. No amount of getting or not getting stuff can make you happy. Happiness has nothing to do with stuff, Instead put your emphasis on experiencing life. Happiness is found in connecting with people, connecting with nature, seeing new things, embracing new experiences and new sensations. Life is about learning and blooming, not things, not sacrificing.
Now I am going to tell you my opinion of the three choices. As you read this, remember, I am only speaking for myself and I do not intend to belittle your ideas or beliefs if they are different from mine. I do not mean to say yours are wrong and mine are right. I only want to tell you my opinion. After hearing it, you are completely welcome to think I am wrong–because I might very well be!
Trying to be happy by accumulation can’t work, it will never make you happy! And that isn’t just my opinion, there is a huge amount of scientific research verifying that accumulating more does not make you any happier than living with little. Beyond that, it is common sense. We have all had many experiences with getting what we want and it never really makes us happy for long. Very quickly we just move on to the next thing we simply must have. The human heart is designed so that as soon as it gets what it wants it immediately starts wanting something more and different.
God wants you to be happy! I know that to some of you those are blasphemous words, but they are words I live my life by. When I started living like my main purpose in life was to be happy, my life drastically changed for the better. I don’t believe in sin, but if I did, I believe one of the greatest sins is to deliberately reject happiness and embrace mediocrity and drudgery. And a life based on self-denial is just that; the rejection of happiness. How evil is the parent whose goal for their children is to be sure they are unhappy? How evil is the God who only wants his children to be good and the only way to be good is to be unhappy? If you have been reading this blog for long, you know I have dedicated my life to serving the vandwelling community. I totally believe there can be little happiness that is not shared with others and to be kept it must be spread around. But I insist on being happy and serving is simply another aspect of being happy. They are not opposing ideas, they are the opposite side of the same coin: Yin and Yang.
The Adventure filled life is the only one that has worked for me. I have alternated between the other models all my life. I went to college to become a preacher but that left me empty and unhappy so I threw myself into accumulating more stuff by getting married, having kids and buying a house. But I still wasn’t happy, so I went back to church and sacrificed for God and family. But nothing had changed and it didn’t work. I went through that cycle my whole life until I found vandwelling. And then a discovered a whole new path. A path of trying to be happy in the moment and experience life deeply right now. Happiness wasn’t to be found in stuff, either by a crazy chasing after it or a frantic denial of it. I finally found happiness by following my heart and having a right perspective on stuff as seeing it as only a means to that end. My heart told me happiness was found in freedom, and connecting to nature. Vandwelling brought me the means to make that happen.
As always, the best way is the middle-way of balance, embracing elements of all three. But if you are going to err, be sure to err on the side of an Adventure filled life.
I encourage each of you to examine your heart and find what makes it sing. What are you passionate about: what do you love? A life of Adventure is one that follows your heart wherever it leads. Maybe it will be thru-hiking. Maybe it will be boondocking in a van in nature. Maybe it will be something totally different. Whatever it is, find it!! And when you do, follow it with every fiber of your being and don’t stop until you have it!
“It is very important that you only do what you love to do. You may be poor, you may go hungry, you may lose your car, you may have to move into a shabby place to live, but you will totally live.
And at the end of your days you will bless your life because you have done what you came here to do.
Otherwise…you will do things only for a reason, to please other people, and you will never have lived. And you will not have a pleasant death.”