Christopher McCandless made a damn good point. It’s important for us to find what charges us in this life and to do it. However, it isn’t only for our own satisfaction, but also for the benefit of others. I feel that even if we’re able to conquer whatever it is that we’re good at or makes us happy, ultimately that gift of enjoyment or happiness is fully functional and at best charged when it’s shared with someone outside of ourselves.
I do usually love going into the backcountry alone. Whenever I feel like I’ve got my head buried too deep in an over-civilized existence, being up in the mountains always enlightens me with the necessary perspective to pull my head out. I always seem to return back to the periphery when I come back out. Being out in the wild seems to naturally reconnect me to my original humanness. And, for some reason, if ever I’m feeling alone or isolated in my day-to-day life, coming back from the mountains helps me to reconnect with the people around me by helping to erase the things we sometimes create that inadvertently separate us. I NEVER feel alone when I come back to the city after solo adventuring.
But, back to happiness being real only when shared. I’ve had a taste of this concept before while being outside alone, but just recently I felt it the most. My trip to the Wallowas was probably the newest and more exploratory solo trip I’ve taken into the outdoors. I got to see a mountain range that, until recently, I didn’t even know existed. It was all unfamiliar to me, even a bit scary at times. I spent 3 nights in the Eagle Cap Wilderness, alone. It was beautiful out there. I’m always amazed how different places (even if they’re not too far away from each other) differ in their environments. What I love the most is that these differences are created in nature, and not by us humans.
I had many hours to myself in this place over the course of 4 days. When I was on the go, moving from one place to the next, I never felt alone. Probably because my brain was occupied by constant activity. Each evening after I finished with the day’s explorations, I would setup camp and get settled. It’s always easiest for me to be still and not engage in any activity in an effort to occupy my mind when I’m outside. You could say that it’s meditative for me to sit outside alone, in the center of nature’s rhythmic existence. I sat in my camp for hours each night just being present, letting my senses take everything in. I would hear 7 different types of birds signing. They didn’t sing alone or all at once. Their individual songs were like 7 different pieces of a puzzle coming together, that made one exquisite song. They needed each other to create it. They would do this over and over and over again, it was a rhythm that created a whole. I would watch the clouds above me dance, and then I’d see how their movement affected everything below them and around me. The change in light changed everything, and in turn changed my perspective. All of these things were such a graceful reminder that nothing in this universe is separate. Every. Single. Thing…is absolutely connected.
Even though I enjoyed these experiences and needed the solitude, I found myself feeling lonely in these times of stillness from time to time. Let’s also identify here, that alone and lonely have two completely different meanings altogether. Being alone doesn’t necessarily mean I am lonely. I’m naturally an introvert, and so I tend to crawl back into my shell anyway to recharge. I do love being around people and of course need them in my life, but I have no problem with being alone, too. Being outside always delivers some of the happiest experiences for me, so I was wondering, ‘why do I feel lonely?’ I was experiencing all of these things that I love so much, and I’ve worked hard to get here. And I wasn’t sure why I felt lonely. Sometimes when I felt happiness soar, it was like it reached a ceiling. Kind of like a high that only had so much momentum.
Then it dawned on me: Happiness needs to be shared.
Have you ever spoken to someone in an effort to share an experience (happy or sad), and if they’re perceptive or empathetic enough to what you are saying, your feelings become more real, too? I have. It’s like that moment of sharing allows the experience to be amplified. It’s the BEST when I can share something exciting with another person, and to be able to watch them light up, too. It reminds me that we are not separate, and I can almost see myself in them. It’s like those birds. Two or more experiences contribute to a whole and make it evolve into something bigger and more powerful.
As I pondered this, I considered my other upcoming plans to solo adventure over the coming months. I currently have the gift of time and am able to take longer trips and many mid-week adventures. The majority of the people in my life that I share these experiences with are on different time, so I know that many of my trips will still be taken alone. So, how can I make those solo experiences more real? It’s by simply sharing them. I love photographing what I see, and LOVE sharing them with people I meet along the way and the people I love when I come back to the city. I’m experimenting with making some videos of my trips, which I’ve never done, but am so very excited to share in hopes that it will help other people light up, too. And I have this blog that I get to write this stuff in (which I’m grateful that you are reading!) All of these things—they make my happiness bigger.
And so, I believe that meaningful experiences must be shared. Whether it’s something we learn, or simply the feeling of experiencing something beautiful, good or bad. When we keep these things bottled up inside of us, that’s as far as they can go. They end there, but they are meant to be evolved by being shared with someone else. Someone who will make happiness more real.