Hike Your Own Hike, Live Your Own Life
If you compare yourself with others,
you may become vain and bitter;
for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.
(Max Erhmann, Desiderata)
I’ve been feeling so grateful these past couple of months, for all the wonderful friends and teachers I’ve met through outdoor social media networks. Far from “imaginary” they are real people with real families, passions, plans, hopes, dreams. People that I hope to one day meet and breathe nature with, laugh and maybe even cry with.
I’ve met some great companies too, even forged friendship bonds with a few. What an incredible compliment it is to have an outdoor brand ask you to try their gear or join their online team, because they admire you and feel others will too.
All this in just a year. I elbowed my way into this awesome group of people with a fair bit of hiking experience, but the rest is all new. I’ve learned so much about gear and techniques, and with the support of all these friends and encouragers (sometimes enablers), have branched out into areas I would not have imagined. And more to come.
Some of my admired colleagues have already written about “outdoor envy”: That chronic awareness of the fact that there is always someone better, faster, stronger, braver than you. Day hikers versus multi-day. Car campers versus backpackers. Section hikers versus thru-hikers. Day climbers versus alpinists.
I had the amazing opportunity to take in a showing of the world tour of the Banff Mountain Film Fest (won two tickets online, natch!) recently. I spent that night watching some of the world’s greatest chase their dreams up mountains, across polar ice caps, down waterfalls. I will never join their ranks. But watching them plan, confront fear and self doubt, challenge themselves … I recognized that same spirit in all of us. That flicker of adventure. That willingness to test our limits. We are all the same.
We have a saying: Hike your own hike. It means that your accomplishments and goals are exactly right for you. It you are motivated to reach for more, great. But let no one shame or intimidate you into ever thinking you are not good enough, or in any way less. I will add that almost without exception the people I have connected with are nothing but encouraging of each other, and more than willing to share their knowledge and expertise. I have been nothing but cheered on for every accomplishment, however small in comparison.
Whatever your outdoor sport and love, share it with others. Be proud and lead by example. There is always someone more experienced and less experienced than you. Just think: Someone is quietly watching you post pictures from your day hike or quiet lake paddling adventure thinking “Hey … maybe I could do that.”
Cheers to another year of friendship and adventure, learning and leadership.