HELL YES! REALLY!!!
Hiking is human nature! It is what we are designed for! That’s right, look down… Do you see them? Those two things carrying you around are your feet! They’re not made for highheels, they’re not made for stitting still 8 hours a day. They’re made for walking, for running, for moving! If evolution would be working faster I guess the last 20 or 30 years would have eliminated our feet and legs and we’d be growing cars out of our ass, or seats, or whatever that makes us not use our feet anymore.
Is hiking boring? I guess it is if you compare it to what society is offering these days: Fast lanes, rollercoasters, flat screens, coffee to go (meh, “to go” has lost its meaning), pizza service, entertainment 24 on 24, 7 on 7. No don’t worry. I’m not gonna mention all the “bad” things. It is all a matter of proportion… And still… What happened that we forgot what it’s like to enjoy what we are designed for?
We all know the rat race is getting faster and faster. No need to get into that. We all know we all seem to want higher, bigger, faster, more more more. We even know why! ‘Cause really we are all living less. Less of the life we are made for. That’s why we feel the need to compensate, we feel the need to comfort ourselves; because we’ve been working too much, we’ve been hurrying too often, we’ve been doing too long what we’re not made for, we’ve been spending too much time in concrete buildings and comfort zones.
The thing is: Did anyone ever reach the finish line in this rate race we are all running? Doesn’t it seem like the home stretch is moving further away the moment we think we’re getting close?
So what is the secret here? What is the key to stop this shit? There ain’t no secret people, it’s all just about having the guts to decide: I’m not doing this! This isn’t what I was born for! O I know, you’re thinking right now: “But I’ve got a house to pay for, I’ve got a family to take care of, I’ve got a car that drinks lots of gas, I can’t get out ’cause I’m a part of this society and all I can do is follow along.” I know a lot of us are stuck, captured in our own four walls of commitments, responsabilities, loans and the feeling that we need to “have more” in order to “be more”. It ain’t easy to quit that shit. But it is so worth it. Because once you stop chasing that finish line, you realize it’s actually a fata morgana, there is no finish, there is nothing you need to reach, there is nothing you need to buy to feel happy. Once you stop chasing you will be finding.
Right I was writing about hiking… Sorry, I tend to wander from the subject, but really actually it’s all connected. What has hiking to do with that rat race, with the bills I gotta pay and the things I wanna buy? Everything and nothing! That’s right! Isn’t hiking chasing a finish line too? In a way, yes, it is. But it’s a line you can grab, a monument, a sign. Does it matter really grabbing that line? No it doesn’t! Those lines, monuments and signs are just a mental help a lot of us seem to need. It is more the holy space inbetween the starting and finish line that creates all of the possibilities, that allows us -trapped people- to take a break and find our own pace, to find what we really need, who we really are. So in a way we “modern” people need that starting and finish line, they are telling us: It’s ok to feel free inbetween the both of us (which is a contradiction in itself but we’re good in fooling ourselves, and sometimes we need to do that in order to find out what if feels like and to make a descision), it’s ok to go slow, it’s ok to just sit and stare and admire the beauty of the land, IT IS FUCKING OK!
So really hiking is never just hiking. Yes, it is doing what our bodies are made for. But it is also giving our mind what it needs. It is remembering and regrowing the connection we once had with everything that is around us, with the animals, and the plants and the land, with the sky, the stars and the darkness of the night. HIKING RESETS US TO OUR ORIGINAL MODE! It resets us to the mode of our genes, it slows us down to a natural pace (no matter whether you’re going slow or speedhiking… there’s a “range of natural speed”). I mean it’s obvious right? We’re a part of nature, we ARE nature, and the further we move away from it, the further we go into artificial mode, the unhappier we become. We will only be able to feel whole when we stop changing the puzzle of life around us. Nature is the puzzle and if we keep on rearranging our environment, the pieces that we really are, will never fit in!
I’m not saying here: Run away from society! That can’t be the solution. I’m saying: Allow yourself, once in a while, to move between a starting and a finish line. Give yourself a trail! It’s the biggest gift you can possibly give to yourself. And maybe one day you won’t need that starting and finish line anymore, you’ll only be moving inbetween those set by nature herself, birth and death.
Is hiking boring? Hell no! BUT it may be scary. You won’t get the fast entertainment you’re used to, you won’t reach the caffeine level you were living on, you won’t get the shops and the mals to distract you. You might experience withdrawal symptons once you decide to get out. The first rain will be falling and the symptom will be: “Na, I’m gonna quit here, this ain’t fun.” The first night will be cold and the symptom will be: “Why am I doing this? I have a warm cuddly bed at home.” The first animal encounter will be scary and the symptom will be: “This is dangerous. I need to get my gun.” And your body will fight you with blisters and backaches and sore muscles. These are only aftereffects of our “modern” way of life. Stay strong! Don’t give up! Resist the temptation! ‘Cause once you’ve gone thru that you’ll slowly get into the mood and into the mode. You’ll start remembering and regrowing. You’ll start reconnecting and you’ll start finding.
Can’t I find that when I go jogging or camping or just sitting on a hill for an hour? To a certain level, yes. Yet I think it’s the longer amount of consecutive time and also the moving in a certain way that make the difference. I think we need to make our comfort zone grow, we need to get past it just one step to experience the magic. We need to feel the earth beneath our feet, with every step that we take, we need the landscape to move by, slowly, so we can go through transition areas the way wildlife does. We need to go through the forest to see the sun break through the leaves, to feel the explosion of light and life when we reach a meadow. We need to go through the valleys to recognize the greatness of the mountains. We need to climb those mountains to see the whole puzzle. We need to move thru nature, live with and in nature to realize it is our home, it is where we belong.
I’ve always been searching for “home”. I moved away from my “home” in Belgium when I was 17, started studying in university in another town, then I moved to Berlin at the age of 19, five years later I moved to Wiesbaden, then to Freiburg, then back to Wiesbaden, I travelled the whole fucking planet always accompanied by the question: “Where is home?” The line says “Home is where the heart is.” O I don’t know. I only know I felt most at home, when I was hiking, living in nature, moving slowly through the landscape. That is not only where my heart is, it is where my body is, my mind and my soul, it is where I connect, where I find, where I am who I truely am, where I don’t need to compensate. It is where I can lay down my head peacefully at night.