I spent the morning writing this about a backpacking trip from a few years back...
As I sat over this mound of accumulated gear, it hit me that I probably needed to use it. There really was no real purpose of collecting it, if I didn’t at least have either a story to tell, or something to show for it. (what kind of motivation is that anyways) I think I bought it to use it, but the more I got the more I wondered what this little wonder lust was really about. After a few days of thinking of a place that I might launch out into, I decided on Lost Creek Wilderness, right outside of Divide, CO. It was a few hours away, down the highway and into some mountains.
I collected all my things, electronic GPS, gear, gear, gear, and took off.
Although I had probably 5X more than I needed, I really didn’t know what I actually needed.
And so I just kinda kept adding to the bag. Boys Scouts motto, “be prepared.” And with heading into an area I had never been, knew nothing about, never backpacked, and despite all my gear, was really not prepared for what was to come.
Pulling up, I felt this sense of fear and doom. What was I about to step into? As I left my car, I felt like I was leaving my comforts. What was out there? Miles down the trail? Would I know what to do? Would I even come back alive? Would I have brought the right “thing.” I started noticing tracks on the ground, bear? Or little rabbit? Not sure again. Looking up, I saw clouds differently. I had always seen them as fun, trying to make them into Jesus face, or something. But out here, it was about surviving. Is that a cloud that will rain? Or is that a cloud that will pass me by? I was going to need much more than a Jesus face in a cloud to get through this.
What am I supposed to look for in a rain cloud? Miningitus, or Columbus, or wait, no cumulus? I am not sure.
Simple things like opening my bag of peanuts brought with it questions… am I sure I want that next bite? What if I need that down the road. Could I find a stream ahead, or should I conserve this sip of water? Choices, and more choices. And I was barely a mile down the trail. Everything felt so heightened. So important.
What about the weather tonight. Would it get really cold? Or stay nice in this sun? I just didn’t know. I couldn’t read the map, or the land. I had never had to. My life was through weather channels. And information feed to me through google and my parents. Cold- put on jacket. Hungry-go to fast food. Those were the voices I followed in my head.
I had always been told in advance what to expect, about weather, and about life, college, and a career. I wasn’t anticipating, or preparing for anything. If I really needed something, well, it was just a half block down the road at Walgreens. I had every luxury I wanted. I had been following that line for awhile. Right behind the guy in front of me. Butt to head. Like a tourist horse ride.
It was the same way with the seasons of life. Spring, Summer, Fall, and Winter. What did those really mean for me? I mean, there was an occasional need to put on a coat, scrape the ice, but a real season. I did not feel it. Not in my perfectly digitally controlled environment at home, and at work, and surrounding. My car stayed the same tempt, the stores I went in, and my home. The only seasons I felt was the short trip of about 5 seconds between all three.
All this to say, I was not connected to something. Could not feel, or experience the earth, and God’s order of things. I did not know what to bring backpacking, because I had never needed to. Everything just kinda came prepared. My lunch had been packed since I was a boy. Then fast food on demand for what I was feeling, in that moment. I was just a little baby suckling on the bottle. Whatever was given to me, I took. No questions. The weatherman says its gonna be warm, great, I will wear shorts. Never knowing why, or even caring. I didn’t need to.
And the lessons I learned about the unpredictability of things? Fear. Good gosh, man. You are exposed. Bad things could happen. Anything in the future that was up for a question, not known.
Well, we insured it. I insured my house, in case of a fire. My car in case I had a wreck. The ring of my wife, in case the diamond fell out. Insurance if I got sick, and then life insurance if I was to die. Anything unpredictable, became managed. No reason to worry, or live each day. It was covered. And I remained a boy because of it.
And so here I was… somewhere in the woods, with lots of questions. And no one there, and no google there to help. Everything I had hoped I needed was shoved somewhere down my overloaded backpack. I was a man, lost in wilderness. I guess I even picked it. Lost Creek Wilderness. Good lord, this was not turning into what I had hoped. Not sure what to do, I just kept moving, and wondering if insurance was going to cover this.
I could not describe it better than Eustace Conway’s description of our world of boxes that we live in.
They live in boxes. They wake up every morning in the box of their bedroom because a box next to them started making beeping noises to tell them it was time to get up. They eat their breakfast out of a box and then they throw that box away into another box. Then they leave the box where they live and get into a box with wheels and drive to work, which is just another big box broken up into lots of little cubicle boxes where a bunch of people spend their days sitting and staring at the computer boxes in front of them. When the day is over, everyone gets into the box with wheels again and goes home to their house boxes and spends the evening staring at the television boxes for entertainment. They get their music from a box, they get their food from a box, they keep their clothing in a box, they live their lives in a box!