I went on a Camp­ing Road Trip, and it was good for my soul.

Some of it was alone. Some of it was with friends. All of it helped me connect.

Sum­mer 2018 has been an all-timer and truth­fully, all of 2018 has been a doozy. I’m think­ing of it as my per­sonal 1960s. It hasn’t been good. Bad isn’t the right descrip­tion either. The best way to put it is, it’s been the type of expe­ri­ence that assures you will never be the same again.

But, to the road trip.

The Background

  1. I haven’t camped much in my life. I’m from Col­orado, so it’s this weird bur­den to carry, the not camp­ing. Every­one hits you up for your gear or to teach them how to camp. “Uhhh, thing is, I don’t do much camp­ing, and I don’t have any the gear,” while look­ing away in shame. It devel­ops into a weird firm stance of, “I don’t camp,” even though it’s really just about not being com­fort­able with the com­bi­na­tion of expec­ta­tions and real­ity and an unwill­ing­ness to con­front the truth.
  2. I’ve never solo camped. Per­haps this is obvi­ous after #1 but note­wor­thy as any­thing alone adds a layer of inten­sity. Every vari­able is your variable.
  3. 10 days. 1 day in Boise at a house with 9 friends (for a Fan­tasy Foot­ball draft). 4 days in Bend, OR with 12 friends in a giant house for a wed­ding. 5 days camping…somewhere…in Oregon-ish locations…probably.
  4. I don’t know Ore­gon. I’ve been to Port­land by air, and I road tripped there as a 5 year-old. There’s some sort of deal where you don’t pump your own gas. I won­der how that works.

The Realness

I learned some things on this trip. A good adven­ture will do that.

  • Com­fort Zone and the edge of panic
  • Hid­ing behind help­ing is a great way to avoid your dreams
  • Cre­at­ing crap and deploy­ing it
  • Friends, col­lab­o­ra­tion
  • Cast­ing a vision and head­ing for it through the scary is…life
  • Decid­ing what to do all day is magic but also a muscle
  • Fear of being mis­un­der­stood is my Moby Dick

Part 1 cov­ers the first three.

Comfort Zones and the Edge of Panic

Panic may not be the right term. “Fran­tic ratio­nal think­ing to con­vince your­self of any other choice besides a b-line for the edge of your com­fort zone” is prob­a­bly a bet­ter term. Let’s go with “ratio­nal brain”, but under­stand that’s what we mean. Great.

I drove all day through Idaho and Ore­gon, and as dark­ness was rolling in, decided to find a camp­site. This was my first camp­ing night of the trip, I was by myself, and I didn’t have a camp­site in mind. I’m free, I don’t need that. At this moment ol’ “ratio­nal brain” paid a visit.

As I drove to my first solo camp­site, my heart started beat­ing faster than normal:

I won­der if I’ll be able to get a site.”

Do I need cash?”

It’s get­ting dark.”

It’s start­ing to sprin­kle out there.”

I won­der how far off the high­way I’ll need to go. I have to be in Port­land at 11am tomorrow.”

A hotel is prob­a­bly a bet­ter idea for tonight.”

The thing about approach­ing the edge of a com­fort zone is your brain gets tricky. Your fear comes out in the form of ratio­nal, rea­son­able, alter­na­tive ideas.

An hour later my tent was set up, I’d cooked some chili, and laid down lis­ten­ing to the rain, and I was thrilled.

Com­fort zone expanded. #CZsmash

Com­fort zones are funny like that. As you approach the edge, things get weird. If you push through “ratio­nal brain”, you’re likely min­utes, maybe hours, from an offi­cially expanded com­fort zone and new life.

Hiding Behind Helping

That first night I was alone, and the truth is, I spent a lot of time alone on the trip. I’m an extro­vert who has always appre­ci­ated alone time. This sum­mer, I’ve learned a bit about how dif­fi­cult alone time can be when your thoughts are rac­ing, but also the value that can be gained from going through the fire. The alone time cre­ated space to process a stack of expe­ri­ences that needed time and quiet and air to breathe.

I dis­cov­ered that I hide from my own dreams by help­ing oth­ers. Some­times this means help­ing with a project or a dif­fi­cult expe­ri­ence, or another’s dream. There’s instant grat­i­fi­ca­tion when asked to help some­one else.

Help­ing means some­one else believes in your abil­ity to help. It means a ‘thank you’ or an acco­lade for your effort. The risk you take and the time you put in to reach a reward is much less. The reward is more likely and much more near.

Dis­ap­point­ing some­one by say­ing, “No, I can’t help,” is the most imme­di­ately tan­gi­ble feel­ing in this sit­u­a­tion. Say­ing, “No,” to take one small step in pur­suit of a far away, intan­gi­ble, risky idea with the poten­tial to fail is really really hard. There may be noth­ing on the other end of the sac­ri­fices while there’s dis­ap­point­ment here and now.

Pur­su­ing my dreams means a lot of effort, time, risk over a lot of weeks or months to pos­si­bly find myself at a fail­ure point.

Creating Crap and Deploying It

Many things, like this blog post, get cre­ated only to sit on the shelf. I think it’s fear. We’re afraid of the feed­back or maybe worse, the lack of feed­back because no one cares. #Cre­ate­Crap #DeployCrap

I told the story of this trip via Insta­gram. The con­ver­sa­tions that came out of it were extremely life giv­ing. Cre­at­ing some­thing, putting it in front of peo­ple, and find­ing out what con­nects (or doesn’t) is an exhil­a­rat­ing expe­ri­ence. Putting it on a shelf to pro­tect it, to keep it from crit­i­cism, to keep it as yours doesn’t help anyone.

When I met up with a friend, who’s IG chops far exceeded my own, the col­lab­o­ra­tion was…searching for another word for ‘exhilarating’…joy, life-giving, fun, a hoot. #Col­lab­o­rate­And­Cre­ate (t-shirts com­ing soon)

Part 2

I’ve bro­ken this into two parts because I don’t want to sit on it, put it on a shelf, or pro­tect it from the light of day. I also don’t want to make you read all of it at once.

  • Friends, col­lab­o­ra­tion
  • Cast­ing a vision and head­ing for it through the scary is…life
  • Decid­ing what to do all day is magic but also a muscle
  • Fear of being mis­un­der­stood is my Moby Dick (what does that mean?)

  • car­olyn

    This is awesome :)

    Hid­ing behind help­ing is a great way to avoid your dreams”