During the course of my trip, I had plenty of time to myself which, looking back in hindsight, isn’t something I’m particularly used to. In most of my earlier life I yearned for the company of others. Before moving to Jackson Hole I was living with my girlfriend at the time. Currently, even if it’s just a few, I interact with people on a daily basis. Even if I’m working at the computer, I still occasionally connect with other people via email, Twitter and Facebook. While it’s great to have camaraderie among friends and family, whether in person or digitally, we’re still inundated with other peoples’ thoughts, even if we share our own opinion of them in agreement of disagreement.
On my recent road trip, spending roughly two weeks by myself in the southern Utah desert, I noticed that I seemed to have a better flow of thoughts, ideas or personal revelations that I was greatly inspired to write down. Perhaps I was afraid that such a powerful thought in my own personal development would be lost and forgotten, increasing the motivation to mark it down on something more permanent than my short-term memory. Regardless, I was able to find time at a campsite here and there and get them written down, this being one such moment.
In this particular instance, I wondered why I was so driven to pen down these particular thoughts with a motivation that I don’t usually experience. It dawned on me, especially on this trip, that I was on my own time all 24 hours of the day. I was by myself, which meant that I wasn’t sharing any thoughts with anyone else, or as it is with standard employment, engrossed in doing someone else’s work. In allowing my thoughts the freedom to express themselves and grow, I began to see how historical figures such as John Muir, Henry David Thoreau and Benjamin Franklin, just to name a few, were able to distinguish themselves. They had all the time they wanted to devote to themselves and their ideas, thus allowing increasingly intelligent thoughts to evolve. They weren’t contradicted by anyone at the point of that thought taking form. They were free to explore it, to expand upon it and to nurture it. In modern times, we tend to want to share a thought as soon as we think it, and chances are there’s someone nearby either physically or digitally that we can share it with. Most times, the thought gets rejected for one reason or another. "It’ll never work." "That’d cost too much." "Nobody would go along with that." These are all typical responses we get when we share what seemed like such a good idea just seconds ago. If it’s not one of those responses it’s a personal criticism or fear that keeps us from even speaking about it and letting it grow. Fears of criticism, poverty and death are three of the most common reasons people refuse to try new things.
Famous historical figures and authors, however, never let those fears or even the typical life that society deems successful weigh them down. If they did, they broke away from it and started over, exploring places they loved and writing down any and all thoughts that crossed their mind. They had more time in any given moment than most people nowadays know what to do with. This allowed any revelations they did have to develop and to grow into something more. I was fortunate enough to be able to tap into this freedom during my two weeks on the road. When you’re able to disconnect from computers, cell phones and especially any responsibilities you have in your day-to-day life, there’s a sense of pure freedom that you open up that allows in truer and more fulfilling thoughts than you might even think you’re capable of. These thoughts allow you to tap into the feelings that allow you to overcome fears, appreciate nature in a new way and restore a child-like innocence and curiosity that brings you into a complete state of bliss.
It seems that in modern times, people are so determined to find a respectful employer that pays well, that they’re unknowingly willing to sacrifice one of the most important parts of being human. They devote so much time and energy to doing someone else’s work for so much of the day that when that day is done, they want nothing more than to either drink it all away with like-minded friends, or to just sit in front of the TV so they don’t have to spend the energy thinking for themselves. In doing so, they’re slowly letting that stream of powerful thinking trickle away.
This is why I find extended, solo traveling not just enjoyable, but essential to harnessing that very energy and thinking that makes us human. It allows you to see life for what it’s really for: to discover what’s out there; to erase any form of an agenda and to let life blow you away with one surprise after another! That’s living!