This summer we embarked on a journey into the wild.
My adventure seeking husband has dreamt of kayaking the middle fork of the salmon river for some time and while it took some convincing for me to sleep in a tent for 5 days, I did finally say yes. We’ve been home from our camping trip for over a week now. I’ve bathed away the grime, manicured my hands and feet, slept peacefully with my down pillows and settled back into the routine of our comfortable life and yet… I find myself longing for the discomfort and the simplicity of life on the river. I find myself longing for the moments of meaningful friendship and profound beauty.
The only way into the wild was via a teeny plane that landed on a dirt airstrip and the only way out was on a paddle in the river. Surrounded by breathtaking nature, wildlife, calm waters, roaring waters, waterfalls and friends it was in fact – dare I say, life altering. I’ve tried to distill the lessons I’m still absorbing below that I hope can be relevant to your own life. The motto of the trip coordinators is “3 MPH” which is the average pace of the flow of the river and we were all encouraged to slow down from our usual 20 mph life to match the pace of nature. Here’s what 3 mph taught me.
You gotta do something hard to get something great
Some of our friends on the trip could have camped for another week because they were so comfortable. I, however was out of my comfort zone most of the time. I danced between moments of challenge and moments of exhilaration which, upon reflection, I’d possibly even embark on again. Doing hard things in life is often the only way to get great things.
Disconnect from phone to connect to people
One day we stopped at the only lodge on the river and we had wifi for 30 mins. Everyone was glued to their screens and for a moment, the magic was lost. We all felt it. Our friendships that week deepened in a way I can’t even put into words – by disconnecting from the trivial details of life we were all able to connect to each other more powerfully.
Presence is a lost virtue
Because we were so disconnected and remote, and because being in the wild often requires focus we were all very much living in the moment. To dodge a rock in a kayak, hike without encountering a bear or a snake, make it down the steep mountain hike without falling or peeing outside our tent at midnight in the dark – these all require being focus and present. Much of our lives are spent regretting or longing for the past and anticipating the future. Presence is the secret to happiness.
Coming home to appreciate the little things
A warm shower! Clean toes! Nespresso! A down blanket! Sushi! I came to appreciate each one of the simple physical comforts of my life that I take for granted every day. Gratitude swept over me as the the bubbles in my magnesium soaked bath embraced me from the outside in. So many of life’s trivial problems were placed into better perspective.
There’s more of course, but the final thing that the river taught me was to keep things simple. We live in a world with the value of more is more but actually, less is more. Ponder and enjoy the simple things and don’t get swept up in the complicated or the trivial.
Sending you love from my plush robe and slippers but dreaming of the wild…
Want to read more? Here are 12 lessons from Africa that I wrote after our magical safari in Tanzania.