It occurs to me that I care far too much about what others think of me. I recently spent a week on a wilderness spring break, not necessarily roughing it as I’ve done when backpacking, but definitely away from people, technology, Internet and cell phone coverage, and cozy amenities, like hot water for a shower. I wasn’t using the orange shovel, but you get the idea. I realized that while I was gone, my best moments were sitting under the stars in silence, explaining to my son why backpacking with his father for the first time was one of my fondest memories, encouraging my daughter to never say, “I can’t,” and having her dad respond with, “Your mom never says, ‘I can’t,'” beaching and anchoring a giant houseboat as a team with my husband, and thinking I was beautiful despite, or perhaps because of, the lack of mirrors, make-up, hair products, and social media.
When I’m in my usual routine, I worry myself with whether I’m measuring up–working enough, mothering enough, producing enough, looking good enough, etc. For what? For whom? In nature, all you have to concern yourself with is food, clothing, shelter, and, perhaps if there’s time and energy, some entertainment. This absolute need to take care of yourself and those with you drives your focus and makes anything else not only peripheral, but entirely irrelevant.
But what do I do when necessity isn’t driving every decision? I obsess over details that are utterly ridiculous–son missed practicing spelling words last night, car has tree sap on the hood that needs cleaned, daughter likes playing with pretend makeup, I’m having a bad hair day, dog needs a bath, kids had too many chips this weekend, garage is in desperate need of organizing, and on and on and on. WHO CARES?!?!
While the title of this post might indicate the importance of love, family, friends, and other top-tiered concepts in Maslow’s hierarchy, I’m talking about the foundation of that hierarchy. It’s incredibly important for us as humans, if we are so fortunate to not be in need of basic human needs, to make ourselves in need every once in awhile. Go camping. Don’t use hot water. Only cook with whole foods over a fire. Get someplace by your own means–walk, run, swim, bike, or paddle (unless you can flap). You get the idea. Then, reflect on your attention. I guarantee that it has changed.
While I am passionate by nature and tend to wax and wane depending upon the circumstance, I can tell you that every time I return to nature, I suddenly realize my insignificance in the world and my desperate need to simply take it all in and stop wasting my time on minutiae, like whether I missed a meeting or was turned down by an audition.