Hiking used to scare me. It wasn’t because of the potential of getting lost and surviving off of berries and twigs for days. It also wasn’t the possibility of getting eaten by a bear or a hungry coyote. My anxiety had more to do with the “leave no trace” policy of the woods and having one too many jalapeños the day before.
This silly anxiety was my excuse (along with my prissy pants dislike for bugs, and frankly the unsterile nature of the outdoors) for the past 4 years while I lived in the beautiful and trail filled state of Colorado. I didn’t give it a try simply on the basis that I thought I wouldn’t enjoy it.
Before I get booed off the stage for not taking advantage of this gorgeous and fitness filled state, let me just first say that I am well aware that my anxiety was an easy way of hiding behind the fact that I didn’t want to get off my butt and explore what was around me. I was comfortable with my daily routine, and was seemingly (unknowingly) content. I was perfectly happy being ignorant, and had convinced myself that I was happier and better off without.
Then my world was shattered. An event filled with grief made me rethink my routine. I needed something new, not just a new fitness routine, but something totally out of my everyday routine.
Finally, one Friday after talking with a girlfriend, we decided to brave the outdoors and go for a Sunday hike. This was a huge moment. Not only was I going to venture out of my comfort zone, but I was going to go into another dimension, and I better bring a water bottle.
Just like when anyone tries anything new, on the drive to the trail I was nervous and anxious. When we finally hit the trail, and I got my first view of a waterfall, I was hooked. I had no clue of the mesmerizing beauty, majesty, and peace being on a trail can bring. I was out of my comfort zone, and it was empowering beyond my understanding.
Before we can make decisions about what we like or dislike, enjoy or avoid, excite or scare us, we first have to give it a try. Within the willingness to give ourselves fully into experiencing what life has to offer is a gift of wisdom. The wisdom we gain from what we experience is what sheds light on ourselves and who we are. How can we truly say we don’t like a certain food if you’ve never tasted it? That a song isn’t moving if you haven’t heard it? That something isn’t beautiful if you haven’t seen it?
Learning to develop an openness is what connects us to the world, and can make your life more rich and fulfilled simply because you are willing to experience it. Find the wisdom in your willingness, and path will broaden right in front of you.